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The Greatest Champion In All of Team Sports
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
--We learned overnight of the passing of Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, whose voice provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years. He was 94 and died at home.
“We have lost an icon,” team president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. “His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever.”
As the longest tenured broadcaster with a single team in pro sports history, Scully saw it all and called it all. He began in the 1950s era of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, on to the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, into the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and through the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1990s, it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed by Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.
The players, managers, owners – and coasts – changed, but Scully’s soothing and insightful style remained a constant for the fans.
He opened broadcasts with the familiar greeting, “Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.”
Vin Scully was born Nov. 29, 1927, in the Bronx, and after his father died when Scully was 7, the mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where Scully grew up playing stickball in the streets.
As a child, when listening to sporting events on the family’s big radio, he was transfixed by the crowd’s roar that raised goosebumps. He thought he’d like to call the action himself.
Scully played outfield for two years on the Fordham University baseball team, and began his career by working baseball, football and basketball games for the university’s radio station.
He soon joined Hall of Famer Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ radio and television booths. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, a mark that still stands.
He moved west with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games – Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and Dennis Martinez in 1991 – and 18 no-hitters.
He also was on the air when Don Drysdale set his scoreless innings streak of 58 2/3 innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings 20 years later.
When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and, of course, Scully called it.
“A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Scully told listeners. “What a marvelous moment for baseball.”
A gifted storyteller, Scully worked alone most of the time, broadcasting more than 9,000 baseball games during a career that spanned seven decades. He was behind the microphone – either on radio or television – for 28 World Series, 20 no-hitters, and four perfect games.
Scully said his favorite moment was when the Dodgers won the 1955 World Series, beating the Yankees in seven games. It was the only championship “Dem Bums” won in Brooklyn.
I have a ton in my archives on the man, but time precludes me from writing more this morning.
--The Padres won the Juan Soto Sweepstakes and it won’t be fair to judge this deal in terms of the Nationals for probably two years, as the five players they are getting in return, talented shortstop C.J. Abrams, outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, pitchers MacKenzie Gore and Jarlin Susana, either are in the minors or just getting started in their major league careers.
The Padres are also getting Josh Bell and his career-high .301 average, 14 homers and 57 RBI, while San Diego would send first baseman Eric Hosmer to Washington, which is kind of how I break up the deal.
But then Hosmer rejected the trade to our nation’s capital (replaced in the deal by Luke Voit), and he’s heading to Boston, where he can walk the Freedom Trail and learn all kinds of historic stuff. San Diego is paying a large amount of the $44 million remaining on the 32-year-old Hosmer’s deal.
Not sure what the Pads are getting in return from Boston…hopefully tubs of New England Clam Chowdah and some lobstah rolls.
Meanwhile, you have to feel for Nats fans, but in all fairness, the team offered Soto a 15-year, $440 million deal. It’s assumed in the offseason that San Diego will exceed it in locking Soto up, though they have him under control through 2024. With a soon-to-return Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Josh Bell, that’s some firepower.
So Padres fans are rightfully pumped!
And while, yes, this is a monumental deal for the sport and two franchises, let’s see what happens in the postseason.
That said, Washington fans have seen Bryce Harper win an MVP award with the Nationals and exit for Philadelphia. Anthony Rendon, a World Series hero, left for the Angels. And last summer, Trea Turner and Max Scherzer went to the Dodgers. And the rebuild continued in a monumental way today.
--The Padres and Brewers exchanged closers, with Milwaukee trading star Josh Hader, who leads the majors with 29 saves, but has had some uncharacteristically rocky outings, and San Diego sending Taylor Rogers (28 saves) to the Brewers. The Brewers are getting three prospects as well.
Hader is a free agent after the 2023 season.
Milwaukee felt better about making such a move, giving up a four-time All-Star, because setup man Devin Williams has a streak of 30 consecutive scoreless innings after being named Rookie of the Year during 2020.
And the Padres also acquired Reds utilityman Brandon Drury, who is having a career year with 20 HR and 59 RBI. Cincinnati received 18-year-old shortstop prospect Victor Acosta, the Padres’ sixth-ranked prospect.
Recall, the Reds just acquired two other shortstop prospects from the Mariners in the trade for Luis Castillo.
--The Yankees were very active the past few days, acquiring frontline starter Frankie Montas and veteran reliever Lou Trivino from Oakland for four prospects, including left-hander JP Sears and the organizational No. 1 pitching prospect Ken Waldichuk (116 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).
Montas, 29, is 4-9, 3.18, this season, obviously pitching better than his record, after finishing sixth in the Cy Young vote last season (13-9, 3.37).
Trivino, 30, has had a rough season (1-6, 6.47, 10 saves), after 22 saves in 2021.
Earlier, the Yanks got quality reliever Scott Effross from the Cubs, and before that had picked up outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Royals.
And then, in a very curious move, New York traded for St. Louis centerfielder Harrison Bader, a Gold Glover, but gave up starter Jordan Montgomery in return, and with Luis Severino placed on the 60-day IL, and Jameson Taillon struggling, this is a head scratcher.
Overall, the Yanks gave up eight prospects with these moves, seven being pitchers, and only JP Sears has played in the majors.
One more…the Yanks shipped Joey Gallo and his .159 average to the Dodgers for a box of donuts and a bag of balls. The Dodgers, who already have Cody Bellinger and his .205 BA, went for Gallo because Chris Taylor is currently sidelined with a fracture to his left foot.
--But as New York fans know, this season is all about Houston, as the Yanks and Astros are on a collision course to meet in the ALCS.
Houston acquired quality outfielder Trey Mancini from Baltimore in a three-way trade involving Tampa Bay.
Mancini, 30, is hitting .268 with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs. He has a .270 career average.
And they got quality catcher Christian Vazquez from Boston. Vazquez is set to be a free agent after the season, but it’s about ‘now,’ and he’s batting .282, 8 home runs, 42 RBIs, while playing solid defense. Another big addition for the ‘Stros.
--The Mets made some cosmetic changes, acquiring Darin Ruf from the Giants to be the right-handed DH, with J.D. Davis exiting, along with three pitching prospects.
They also picked up Cubs reliever Mychal Givens, who has a history of success with manager Buck Showalter when the two were in Baltimore.
But the biggest addition was Jacob deGrom, who hit the mound Tuesday night against the Nationals for the first time in 391 days and looked terrific, five innings, one run, no walks, six strikeouts, and just 59 pitches. But as is always the case the Mets failed to score for him and deGrom got a no-decision, the Nats, without Soto and Bell, snapping New York’s 7-game winning streak 5-1.
With the Braves’ 13-1 win over the Phillies last night, the Mets are 2 ½ ahead of Atlanta, with a big 5-game series looming at Citi Field, starting Thursday.
--Speaking of the Phillies, they are tied for the third wild card with the Cardinals and have gone all in, acquiring right-hander Noah Syndergaard and center fielder Brandon Marsh from the Angels and reliever David Robertson from the Cubs; Robertson the arm Mets fans were hoping for.
--The Angels decided not to trade Shohei Ohtani at the deadline, but are likely to in the offseason, as Ohtani is eligible to become a free agent after the 2023 campaign.
As for the health status of Mike Trout, he declared “my career isn’t over” and now it appears once he starts his “rotational” therapy for his back condition, he could be back by end of August.
What seems clear is that he is going to need to be on a strict exercise program the rest of his playing career.
--In contract moves, San Diego also signed started Joe Musgrove to a 5-year extension, while Atlanta gave star third baseman Austin Riley a 10-year, $212 million extension, which save for the Soto trade, could be the most significant move of the day.
--The other day, Sunday, July 31, the Mets were playing the Marlins and the Mets’ broadcasting team talked about the importance of the date…it would have been the 30th birthday for the late-Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident, Sept. 25, 2016. The shooting star was just 24.
I was reminded that while Fernandez was 38-17, 2.58 ERA, for his brief career, he was a stunning 29-2, 1.49, at home.
The Mets’ announcers wondered on what his impact would have been, had he still been a Marlin, a veteran of 30, and his impact on the younger arms.
But Ron Darling also brought up a comparison on the impact of Fernandez’s death on a franchise, and the sudden death of college basketball star Len Bias, the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, who was a man among boys his senior year at Maryland…LeBron before there was a LeBron.
It took a while for the basketball world to recover from this.
Shockingly, while he was a good player, Brad Daugherty of North Carolina was the first pick over Bias, selected by the Cavs.
One more on that draft…Chris Washburn of North Carolina State was the third selection by Golden State and this troubled lad’s NBA career lasted 72 games.
--Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, under a ruling Monday by the disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association.
Virtually everyone thought Watson would get at least eight games.
The following encapsulates the issue rather well.
Nancy Armour / USA TODAY
“Every time the NFL has a chance to stand for women, it fails. Spectacularly.
“Retired judge Sue L. Robinson deserves no small amount of criticism, whether it’s for the laughably light six-game suspension she recommended for Deshaun Watson on Monday morning or her rationalization for it because his predatory behavior was ‘nonviolent sexual conduct.’ It’s that kind of 1950s thinking, that assaults and harassment don’t really count unless violence is involved, that perpetuates rape culture and marginalization of women.
“Robinson’s assessment, and her decision, were also based on the violations leveled against Watson by the NFL and the evidence the league provided. As it always does when it comes to women, the league did the bare minimum.
“It claimed it wanted at least a yearlong suspension, yet presented evidence from just four of the two dozen cases against Watson.
“ ‘The NFL’s investigation was conducted by two former prosecutors with decades of experience investigating sexual assault cases. Although Mr. Watson allegedly worked with more than 60 massage therapists during the 15-month period beginning in the fall of 2019 through the winter of 2021, the NFL only investigated the claims of the 24 therapists suing Mr. Watson for damages. Of these 24 complainants, the NFL investigators were only able to interview 12; of those 12, the NFL relied for its conclusions on the testimony of 4 therapists (‘the therapists’),’ Robinson wrote.
“Now why would that be?
“Does the deep-pocketed NFL not have the resources that newspapers and magazines do? Do prosecutors experienced in sexual assault cases lack the interview skills or tenacity of reporters? Is a league office, hard-wired to overkill everything, naïve enough to think that the stories of four women, even if they are representative of more, will have the same impact as, say, details from four dozen?
“Or is it that the NFL just didn’t want to try that hard, knowing it would be maligning a quarterback whose record-setting contract will make him a face of the league for the foreseeable future? ….
“Two dozen women filed civil lawsuits in which they detailed sexual misconduct by Watson. A police detective said in a deposition for those civil cases that she believed Watson’s behavior was criminal.
“The New York Times reported that, over a 17-month span, he had booked massage appointments with at least 66 women – a number and haphazardness that any elite athlete will tell you is not normal. The Houston Texans needed less time to decide to settle lawsuits with 30 women who accused the team of enabling Watson than they normally need to fall out of playoff contention.
“All that, and the NFL still couldn’t make the case that Watson deserved more than six games. …made all the more enraging when you consider that DeAndre Hopkins will sit out the same number of games for a first violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Tom Brady served two games less for the equivalent of a frat-house prank….
“Unless the NFL appeals, Watson will be back before the end of October, giving him plenty of time to take the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs and make everyone forget his misdeeds.
“Tell me again how much the NFL cares about its female fan base….
“Robinson rightly pointed out that, as a private organization, the NFL ‘can operate as it deems fit.’ But it has a long track record of taking a definitive stand for women only when it thinks there’s a buck to be made off them. It might make a public show of support, as it did in claiming it wanted a career-curtailing suspension for Watson, but it defaults to a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude when it comes time for substantive action.
“It is not lost on women, or anyone who recognizes the cravenness of commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL, that the same league that lets Daniel Snyder skate on all of his reprehensible behavior toward women didn’t fight harder to hold Watson to account.
“Goodell and the NFL can go scorched earth when they want to; we saw it with Deflategate. They simply have chosen not to when it comes to violence and abuse of women.
“The NFL doesn’t give a damn about women. Shame on us for thinking it will ever be any different.”
--The NFL suspended and fined Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and stripped the team of two draft choices for violating league policies governing the integrity of the game.
Ross was suspended through Oct. 17 and removed from all NFL committees. He was fined $1.5 million, the league said. The Dolphins lose their first-round pick in next year’s draft and a third-round selection in 2024.
The penalties stem from the league’s investigation of allegations of tampering and tanking, which was led by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney and chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The probe began after former Miami coach Brian Flores accused the Dolphins in his racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and teams of offering him $100,000 to lose games during the 2019 season in a bid to improve draft positioning.
The investigation that the Dolphins “had impermissible communications” with quarterback Tom Brady in 2019 and 2020 while he was under contract with the New England Patriots. The team also had impermissible communications with Brady and his agent, Don Yee, during and after the 2021 season, which the quarterback spent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and with Yee in January 2022 regarding a coaching client, Sean Payton, the NFL said.
“The investigators found tampering violations of an unprecedented scope and severity,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”
The investigation found that the Dolphins “did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season,” the NFL said.
So weak all around.
--Deebo Samuels received his long-sought contract extension, three years, $73.5 million, $58.1 million of which is guaranteed. Samuel is 26 and will hit free agency at 30, where he could receive another big deal depending on his health.
--From Daniel Kaplan / The Athletic
“NFL teams on average are worth $4.14 billion, 18 percent more than last year, with the cheapest team the Cincinnati Bengals at $2.84 billion, a new valuation study from Sportico reports.
“To put that into perspective, before Rob Walton agreed this year to buy the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion, the previous sale, the Carolina Panthers in 2018, went for a then-record $2.275 billion, or more than half a billion dollars less than the 32nd team now in the Sportico valuations.”
The pandemic proved to be a mere hiccup for the NFL, and in 2021, the league had 75 of the 100 most-watched programs of the year. The NFL also struck decade-long media deals worth $110 billion in 2021, with each NFL team’s share of national revenues last year at $347.3 million, which will only grow substantially.
Dallas has the highest valuation at $7.64 billion, followed by the Rams at $5.91 billion and the Patriots $5.88 billion.
--Andy Nesbitt / USA TODAY
“The third LIV Golf exhibition happened this past weekend in New Jersey at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster where somebody won the tournament and took home a lot of money.
“I’m sure some teams also won a good chunk of money for getting the best scores.
“Oh, and other players who didn’t come close to winning still likely won a bunch of money, too.
“All of that is probably forgotten now by most sports fans because what happens at LIV Golf events really doesn’t matter. There is no meaning to any of it. They are watered down exhibitions played over three days with no cut and no reason to care who lifts a trophy on the final day.
“There is no spark. There is no history. There is nothing that comes even remotely close to connecting fans with the players because how is one supposed to care at all about some golfer winning more money for their bank account?
“I watch a ton of golf. Way more golf than one should watch and I have no idea who won the second LIV Golf event that happened a few weeks ago. I’m guessing you don’t either and I’m also guessing the nameless folks on Twitter who will yell at anyone who questions this dumb league would have to do a Google search to find the answer.
“LIV is an empty wasteland where players soak in the money of the Saudi-funded league and don’t care about anything at all. There is no depth and there are no juicy storylines….
“Look at Phil Mickelson. You remember him, right? He finished near the back of the pack yet again with a score of 6 over. He’s now a combined 26 over in the three LIV exhibitions but again, none of that matters. His gigantic checks cash and that’s apparently the most important thing here.
“There will be more LIV events and big checks and carney-like announcers trying to tell the viewers about how cool and different everything is in these exhibitions.
“But the only real difference is that nothing matters and nothing will be remembered for very long.”
--Eamon Lynch / Golfweek
“So much of the commentary about LIV Golf has focused on what it is not – as in, not a conventional tour, not a familiar schedule, not 72 holes, not a regular tee time format, not requiring good play for good pay, not on broadcast television, not well-attended by fans and not deterred by mass executions. Only with its third tournament, held this week, was it thrown into sharp relief what LIV actually is. Not for the first time, true character was revealed courtesy of an embrace by the baby-carrot fingers of Donald J. Trump.
“LIV’s event at Trump National G.C. in Bedminster, N.J. was greeted with dignified outrage by families of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks… Yet when asked about the families’ protest, the former president offered this: ‘Nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately.’
“The comment exposed how Trump is utterly devoid of honor, but it also illuminated why he is perfectly suited to LIV Golf. Their shared parallels are as plentiful as they are unflattering.
“Start with the art of obfuscation, practiced at every LIV press conference as both executives and players prevaricate about ongoing abuses by their benefactors….
“Then there’s the protecting the grift, doing whatever is necessary to ensure the pocketing of other people’s money continues unimpeded. Both LIV and Trump Inc. are taking MBS for a dupe. While Trump collects fees to host tournaments, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, received $2 billion for his new private equity firm from the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund, despite objections by the Fund’s advisors over the merits of the investment….
“Which leads to the inevitable hornswoggle, the suckering of the credulous with talk of a groundbreaking new commodity that feels more like a revenue play for guys whose illiquidity can no longer finance their narcissism. The brands of Trump and LIV Golf’s CEO Greg Norman are their names, which they have appended to everything from airlines to steaks. If you’re to persuade a fresh investor to subsidize your swashbuckling self-image, you’d best have new product to pitch. Golf is their means to that end
“Both men are adept at using personal grievances as professional fuel.
“Trump’s list of perceived injustices is longer than the Beijing phone book and includes the PGA Tour (for leaving his Doral Resort in 2016), the PGA of America (for taking the 2022 PGA Championship from his New Jersey course to Oklahoma after the January 6 sacking of the Capitol), and the R&A (for not taking the Open back to Turnberry while his name is above the door).
“Norman’s well-documented resentment at the Tour dates back decades and is rapidly expanding to include those he deems insufficiently welcoming of his new Saudi-funded venture, like the major championships and the Official World Golf Ranking. No gripe is too petty to go unvoiced at LIV and that has emboldened its players to speak out about the harsh exploitation they endured, like Phil Mickelson with his media rights and Sergio Garcia with his penalty drops.
“A common side effect of proximity to Trump and LIV is reputational ruin. Many a man has had his name tarnished by association with 45 and now golfers watch as their hard-earned prestige is diminished, not by the naked money grab but rather by the disingenuous equivocations that are a job requirement when you work for the Saudis. Take Paul Casey, once an admired UNICEF ambassador who refused to compete in Saudi Arabia but who was mute this week when asked about abuses by those whose check he cashed. Next up: Bubba Watson. He adopted two children and is a passionate advocate for the cause, but will one day have to reconcile that with working for a state that has cruelly made adoption illegal.
“What LIV Golf ultimately showcased this week is something Trump long ago mastered: the art of theater, of presenting a masquerade to the dissatisfied masses, of promising disruption and reform that it is poorly positioned to deliver upon.”
--Believe me, I understand many of you don’t want politics in Bar Chat, but Trump interjected himself into the LIV debate, and in a big way. Saturday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was at the course, imploring fans to chant Trump’s name while putting down President Biden. Trump purposely turned the weekend into a political spectacle.
And as Golf Digest’s Joel Beall pointed out, just a reminder. The LIV finale this season is at Trump Doral in October (Oct. 28-30). As Beall put it, what we saw “is likely not an aberration.”
Will Trump have announced by then that he is running in 2024, as many suspect he will have? That’s what he does…he’ll suck the oxygen out of the event and make it all about him.
--Dave Shedloski / Golf Digest
“For all the billions at its disposal, LIV Golf can’t purchase the most elemental – and necessary – authentication in men’s professional golf.
“Without being able to offer Official World Golf Ranking points, the LIV Golf Series will remain a relative outlier on the global golf stage, one that can provide its players a future of financial wealth in exchange for, at first glance, what would appear to be dwindling opportunities in the game’s major events. Not surprisingly, then, the upstart circuit sent an application on July 6 for accreditation to the OWGR board, submitted via sponsorship from the Asian Tour. Peter Dawson, OWGR champion, acknowledged receiving it after the board met during the Open Championship at St. Andrews, stating ‘an examination of the application will commence.’
“However, it would appear in its current form, LIV Golf doesn’t possess the necessary organizational components to be approved. Golf Digest has obtained information that identifies various parameters that need to be met for approval, several of which LIV Golf seems to fall short on if its application to the OWGR reflects its current rules and governance. The following compulsory elements would appear to be lacking:
“1. An embrace of inclusion and promoting non-discriminatory practices.
“2. Competitions contested over 72 holes….
“3. An open annual qualifying school held before the start of each season.
“4. A field size on average of 75 players over the course of a season.
“5. A 36-hole cut, whether playing 54 or 72 holes.
“6. A clear opportunity to progress to a full member tour, that is, to one of the six members of the International Federation of PGA Tours.
“7. Reasonable access for local and regional players (i.e. Monday qualifiers) at each of its tournaments.
“Additionally, LIV Golf does not meet the requirement of a 10-event minimum schedule, though it should next year with its plan for 14 tournaments. This bit of short-sightedness at its outset is significant because a prospective tour must adhere to the OWGR guidelines for at least one year immediately prior to inclusion. So even if it somehow were to be fast-tracked for approval, OWGR guidelines suggest the earliest date that points could be distributed wouldn’t begin until 2024.
“Routinely, the process for OWGR approval can take upwards of one to two years….
“LIV Golf officials could well respond to its list of shortcomings by citing a few exceptions that exist in the PGA Tour schedule. The PGA Tour stages five no-cut tournaments, two of which – the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Tour Championship – fall far short of 75 players. But the tour has 37 full-field tournaments with a cut, and those tournaments feed into the no-cut events.
“Then there’s the 20-player Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods, which also awards OWGR points, but didn’t do so until it changed its field eligibility system.
“The fact that these exceptions are one-offs or apply to a tour that meets all other criteria in no way translates to an endorsement of LIV Golf, which in its entirety would be requesting certification with all of these exceptions….
“LIV Golf players have discussed the possibility they might seek to supplement their World Ranking points by playing Asian Tour events, but the idea has considerably less merit now that a reconfiguration of the OWGR points distribution metric kicks in starting with next week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship. The new system, which has been several years in the making, no longer will award the minimum first-place points to tournaments with weak fields; each event stands on its own. Thus, the Asian Tour’s minimum of 14 points for the winner disappears, and its events won’t be as lucrative on the OWGR scale. The addition of LIV players who are plummeting down the rankings during a drawn-out application process won’t improve field strength appreciably -a vicious spiral of diminishing returns.
“Should LIV Golf make the necessary alterations, what would follow is a probation period of at least three years, according to OWGR procedures….
“The bottom line is that LIV Golf will have to change its organizational model significantly if it hopes to get the good housekeeping seal of approval of OWGR inclusion. Can it exist without the OWGR? Access to an estimated $620 billion war chest suggests that it can. But what would be the point? With its July 6 application, LIV Golf already has provided the answer.”
--According to Greg Norman, LIV offered Tiger Woods between $700 million-$800 million to jump ship.
Appearing on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Norman said: “Tiger is a needle mover. So of course you got to look at the best of the best.
Of course this is nuts. Tiger can barely play. Then again, they paid $200 million to Phil Mickelson to suck.
--Davis Love III told Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg that he has called several players and pitched them on staying with the Tour. It did little good. All of the players ended up joining LIV.
“I just threw my hands up,” Love said. “They’re getting told so many things that aren’t true. You can’t convince them otherwise.”
He added: “I’ve been lied to already. Why would you say, ‘Yes, I’m going after the FedEx Cup’? No, they’re not gonna tell me that.”
Rickie Fowler noted that a group of Tour pros who competed in the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland gathered to discuss the state of pro golf.
“There’s a lot of guys that want to see this Tour succeed and continue to be the best place to play,” Fowler said.
--While Bubba Watson was announced as a new LIV golfer, he has been recovering from a torn meniscus, hasn’t played in months, and said he won’t play the rest of the year due to his injury so he can be “100%” before he joins LIV in 2023. Whatever.
--The PGA Tour released its full 47-event schedule for the 2022-23 season, the last wraparound campaign before the tour switches back to a calendar-year-based schedule beginning in 2024.
Notable changes include the BMW Championship moving from Wilmington Country Club in Delaware back to the Chicago area, with Olympia Fields playing host to the second of three FedEx Cup playoff events after staging a fan-less BMW in 2020. Just 70 players will qualify for the first playoff event next season, the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis, down from the 125 that have made it to the postseason since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. These 70 will be fully exempt for the following season, while players outside the top 70 will compete for FedEx Cup points and additional status in a series of fall events.
Fifty players will advance from the FedEx St. Jude to the BMW, with the top 30 qualifying for the season-ending Tour Championship, which wraps on Aug. 27.
The top-50 finishers in the FedEx Cup playoffs – so, those who qualify for the BMW Championship – will be eligible to compete in a series of international events. Details of this international series are expected to be released later this year.
Both of the first two FedEx Cup playoff events will see their purse increase from $15 million to $20 million, and the Sentry Tournament of Champions will have a purse of $15 million, up from $8.2 million, and the three player-hosted invitationals – the Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the Memorial Tournament – as well as the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will offer $20 million in prize money, all up from $12 million.
Next February, Phoenix will play host to both the WM Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl.
--This weekend it’s all about the last opportunity to get into the 2022 FedEx Cup playoff field, the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, and it’s confusing because of the points list being impacted by the removal of the LIV players. Webb Simpson, for example, was No. 126 after the Rocket Mortgage tournament last weekend, but now sits at 117, which should put him in the playoffs regardless of how he plays.
--I didn’t have a chance Sunday to note the passing of Nichelle Nichols, who died at the age of 89. She had been struggling with dementia following a stroke in 2015.
Nichols played the communications officer on the Starship Enterprise on “Star Trek” and famously participated in what was thought to be the first interracial kiss on television.
Nichols gained fame as the beautiful, composed, immensely competent Lt. Uhura on three seasons of “Star Trek” on TV and in six “Star Trek” movies. A Black American cast as a master of 23rd century intergalactic technology, she had a role that defied the typical portrayal of Black women as domestics or entertainers. When she contemplated leaving the show for a Broadway play after its first season, she was dissuaded by none other than Martin Luther King Jr.
When they met at an NAACP fundraising event in Beverly Hills, King was appalled when she spoke of quitting, according to Nichols’ 2010 reminiscence on the Archive of American television.
“The world sees us for the first time as we should be seen,” King told her. “Gene Roddenberry [Star Trek’s creator] has opened a door. If you leave, that door can be closed. Your role is not a Black role and not a female role – he can fill it with anything, including an alien.”
“I could say nothing,” she recalled. “I just stood there, realizing that every word he said was the truth.”
“He told me that it was the only show that he and his wife, Coretta, would allow their little children to stay up and watch,” Nichols recounted to CNN years later. More important, King told Nichols that she was breaking important new ground for Black Americans and had to keep doing it.
“For the first time,” King told her, “the world sees us as we should be seen. This is what we’re marching for.”
“Besides,” said King, who confessed to being a huge “Star Trek” fan, “you’re the fourth in command – you’re the head communications officer.”
Days later, she told Roddenberry she’d changed her mind.
“He took out my resignation letter, which was torn into a hundred pieces, and handed me the pile. I said, ‘Thank you, Gene.’”
Nichols came to embrace her role and appeared at “Star Trek” events throughout her life. She became a major advocate for the U.S. space program and led a successful drive to recruit women and minorities into astronaut training.
As for the kiss…the episode first aired on Nov. 22, 1968, and featured a race of aliens who worshipped the earthly philosopher Plato. In their study of humanity, they wanted to observe human intimacy – and telekinetically forced Uhura and Captain Kirk to kiss.
By the standards of the day, it was a potentially explosive scene. Just one year earlier, the Supreme Court struck down state bans on interracial marriage. “Star Trek” producers were worried about the backlash….and it never arose.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted early Sun. p.m.]
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
1968 Baseball Quiz: Early on this season, there were lots of comparisons between today and 1968, the “year of the pitcher,” when the major league batting average was .237. For quite a spell, well into May, the 2022 average was below or just above that level, but I was saying, wait ‘till it warms up…it’s the weather as much as the ball…and today we are at .243 and in no danger of falling below 1968.
There is also a huge difference in runs per game, 4.34 today vs. 3.42 then, and OPS… .708 today and .639 in '68.
So, for you very old timers, every fan knows Bob Gibson’s ERA was 1.12 in ’68. But name the other six in the majors with ERAs under 2.00 (162 innings) that season, none of whom are in the Hall of Fame. [You can build a strong case for two, maybe even three, of them being in, however.] Answer below.
Bill Russell, RIP
One of the greatest in the world of sports, probably in the top ten all time, all sports, died today. [That’s an interesting discussion for your neighborhood tavern....Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Babe, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Tom Brady, Jim Brown, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger, Arnie, Jesse Owens, Usain Bolt, Lindsey Vonn?, Russell, LeBron, Jordan, Kareem, Nadal, Serena, Secretariat (or maybe not)….]
Bill Russell, pride of Monroe, Louisiana, and after the family moved to the Bay Area, McClymonds High School in Oakland, CA., left us at the age of 88. His wife, Jeannine, was at his side, a statement on social media read.
Russell was an 11X NBA champion with the Celtics, in just 13 years, 5X MVP.
And he also won two NCAA championships, back-to-back, at the University of San Francisco. And a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.
Russell was player-coach for the Celts for his last three seasons (the first black coach in the NBA), with two of his 11 NBA titles.
Russell revolutionized the game at the center position in terms of his lightning reflexes and outlet passes that triggered Boston’s electric fast break with the likes of Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, and Bill Sharman
How good were Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell when it came to rebounding?
All-time career averages….
1. Wilt 22.89 per game
2. Russell 22.45
No. 3, Bob Pettit, was six back at 16.22.
Russell had 51 rebounds in one game and 49 in two others. He also averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists. [Blocked shots weren’t an official stat in those days, unfortunately.]
And in his head-to-head matchups with Wilt, while Chamberlain outrebounded and outscored Russell, Bill ended up with 11 rings, Wilt just two.
“But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life. From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar [Evers’] assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom… Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change,” the statement from the family read.
“Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded. And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #7.”
A beautiful statement.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Russell “the greatest champion in all of team sports,” in a statement Sunday.
“I often called him basketball’s Babe Ruth for how he transcended time. Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever.”
Silver continued: “Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.”
The great Frank Deford wrote in Sports Illustrated in 1999: “The only thing we know for sure about superiority in sports in the United States of America in the 20th century, is that Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics teams he led stand alone as the ultimate winners.”
You will hear and read all manner of stories on how Russell’s steely outward personality and pointed manner of speaking didn’t endear him to some fans in Boston, which had a long history of racial intolerance. Remember, the Red Sox didn’t integrate until 1959, and some of us of a certain age remember the violent protests in Boston over federal court-ordered school desegregation in the 1970s that were among the worst in the country.
And Russell refused to sign off on a public ceremony in 1972 to retire his Celtics jersey, and in 1975 he declined to attend his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, upset that he would be the first African American player to be enshrined.
“We foolishly lionize athletes and make them heroes because they can hit a ball or catch one,” Russell once said. “The only athletes we should bother with attaching any particular importance to are those like [Muhammad] Ali, whom we can admire for themselves and not for their incidental athletic abilities.”
One thing we do know, is that next Martin Luther King Day, when the NBA has a near-full schedule, the talk will be about Bill Russell’s contributions in the struggle for racial equality as much as MLK’s…just as that should be the focus of MLB’s Jackie Robinson Day.
Russell was a true American giant…off the court as much as on it.
--Aaron Judge is en fuego. Thursday, he hit a walk-off home run as the Yankees defeated the Royals 1-0 at the Stadium, spoiling a terrific effort by K.C. starter Brady Singer (7 scoreless, one hit, 10 Ks).
Friday, Judge hit two more homers, including a grand slam, six RBIs in all giving him 89 in this category, as New York blasted the Royals 11-5 (though Gerrit Cole was hit hard, yielding all five K.C. runs in six innings).
But with home runs No. 40 and 41 (giving him 11 in the last 13 games), Aaron Judge suddenly has his sights on some pretty impressive legends of the game. Babe Ruth had 41 home runs by the end of July in 1928 to set an AL record, which the Philadelphia Athletics’ Jimmie Foxx later tied in 1932. That record stood until 1998 when Ken Griffey Jr. hit 41 homers before Aug. 1 during his second-to-last season with the Mariners.
Ruth ended the 1928 campaign with 54 and 146 RBIs. Foxx finished the ’32 season with 58 and 169. Griffey totaled 56 home runs, 146 RBI.
But Judge set a new Major League record with his ninth multi-homer game through his team’s first 101 games.
He also became the first Yankee since Roger Maris in 1961 to reach the 40-homer mark before August.
With this streak, and Shohei Ohtani’s relative mediocrity at the plate, regardless of Ohtani’s historic two-way game, the AL MVP is Judge, everyone can now agree.
So, Saturday, Judge hit No. 42, a 2-run shot and the Yanks beat the hapless Royals again, 8-2.
Overshadowed in Judge’s performance was the acquisition of outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who the Yankees nabbed from the same Royals for three minor league pitching prospects.
Benintendi, you’ll recall, was one of ten K.C. players who could not play against the Blue Jays in Toronto because he was not vaccinated against Covid.
Now, he says he will listen to entreaties from the Yankees organization that he get the shot.
“I’m open-minded about it. I’m not against it,” he said before he appeared in his first game on Thursday.
He’s gone 1-for-8 with four walks in the first three games against his former team. Benintendi is also a free agent after the season.
But today, the Yanks lost 8-6, as Judge failed to come through with the tying runner on in the bottom of the ninth…0-for-3 with two walks in the game.
To be fair, super reliever Clay Holmes had a meltdown, trying to preserve a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth.
--The Mets had won five straight as they played the Marlins today in Miami. After Wednesday’s stirring 3-2 win over the Yankees, Max Scherzer with seven scoreless, the Mets beat the Marlins 6-4, Friday, and 4-0 last night, as Carlos Carrasco pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings for his 100th career win, a neat milestone in today’s game.
Carrasco, 11-4, 3.79, has now thrown 18 2/3 scoreless over this last three starts.
And the Mets completed the sweep, 9-3 this afternoon, a season-high 19 hits, Taijuan Walker improving to 9-2, 2.79.
The Mets also announced Jacob deGrom will finally make his first major league start in a year, Tuesday, in Washington. No doubt he will be on a super-tight leash. Fans would love 4 innings of one- or two-run ball and him exiting without an issue, making a start the following Sunday against the Braves.
--Speaking of the Bravos, after 5-2, 6-2 wins, Friday and Saturday, against the Diamondbacks, Atlanta sat three games back of the Metsies, and they remain so following a 1-0 win today on an Austin Riley walk-off double; Riley having a super season, with 29 home runs, 68 RBI, 31 doubles, .301 BA.
Saturday, former Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson threw 6 innings of one-hit ball for Atlanta. Anderson is one of the better stories in the history of the world, frankly, yet no one talks about it.
--As the Tuesday trade deadline approached, the Reds traded quality starter Luis Castillo to the Mariners for four minor leaguers, including the Mariners’ top two prospects, according to Baseball America’s rankings. Castillo is a free agent at the end of the 2023 season, but the Reds hoped to maximize the return of a Castillo trade by dealing him with a year-and-a-half of team control left.
Castillo (4-4, 2.86 ERA) was the top starting pitcher on the market and the Reds landed shortstops Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, Seattle’s top two, as well as two right-handed pitchers.
Marte, 20, and Arroyo, 18, both seem like dynamite prospects. I’m guessing in two years, at least one of them is having an impact at the MLB level.
--As for Juan Soto and, increasingly, trade talk concerning Shohei Ohtani, we’re all waiting. I think it would be easier, having a few weeks to work on it, to get a big trade done for Soto.
As for Ohtani, there really hasn’t been much time to get something done by Tuesday, and it’s hard to figure out his true value. Biggest star in the game…but still a lot of questions and, more importantly, what do you give up for him? It’s different than a package for Soto, more complicated.
Mets would love him, who wouldn’t? But at what cost?
I’m guessing an Ohtani deal is for the offseason, but within hours I could be proved wrong.
For the Angels, a huge new issue has come up…the status of Mike Trout’s back injury, which has been diagnosed as costovertebral dysfunction.
Trout assures us he will play again this season. David Wright knows about debilitating back injuries that stole a potential Hall of Fame career from him. Don Mattingly’s and Christian Yelich’s back injuries sapped them of power, but they could still play at a decent level for years.
Wright, though, just couldn’t play. I’m not sure what the differences are between Trout and Wright, medically, but we’ll no doubt learn more about Trout in a few weeks.
Robert Watkins, the spinal surgeon who checked on Trout, has not seen the injury very much, Angels athletics trainer Mike Frostad told reporters Wednesday.
“And for it to happen in a baseball player,” Frostad said, “we just have to take into consideration what he puts himself through with hitting, swinging on a daily basis, just getting prepared, and then also playing in the outfield.”
--Heading into the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, Mich., the tournament this weekend that mattered, you had a leaderboard of….
Taylor Pendrith -21
Tony Finau -21
Cameron Young -17
The 31-year-old Canadian Pendrith is a rookie on tour who did have a T13 at The Players Championship, then was out four months due to injury…a fractured rib he said he sustained swinging a club.
But he played in the two recent alternate-field events, the Barbasol and Barracuda championships, and had a T13 and T11, so he’s got game.
Finau is looking to go back-to-back, which would be special. The talented Young is looking for his first tour win.
And Finau did it…now four wins, rather suddenly, if you’ve followed his career…he has changed the narrative big time.
Patrick Cantlay, Young, and Pendrith (good for him) finished T2.
--Heading into next week’s final event to determine the FedEx Cup playoff field, the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., due to the players within the top 125 having been removed from the eligibility list for their LIV participation, the PGA Tour has moved to a “soft” top 125 points list in order to determine the qualifiers for the playoffs.
So the real FedEx Cup line is likely in the No. 134-136 range.
The next LIV Golf event won’t be held until the first week of September – after the conclusion of the tour’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
So you’ve seen names like Cam Smith, Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson as potential/probable LIV employees, but they aren’t likely to announce until after the playoffs start, or conclude.
LIV Golf / Trump Bedminster
--Steve Politi / NJ.com
“As Phil Mickelson stepped onto the course for the first time at the LIV golf event, it was almost possible to squint and see the controversial new tour’s vision. ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC blared on the loudspeakers, a small but feisty gallery circled the 16th tee box, and three paratroopers landed on a fairway nearby carrying a giant American flag.
“Then came a cold splash of reality. As Mickelson prepared to hit his tee shot on the par-3 hole – his first under LIV Golf’s shotgun start rules – a heckler cracked the silence with a biting commentary about who is paying his massive salary.
“ ‘DO IT FOR THE SAUDI ROYAL FAMILY!’ the man yelled.
“The crowd grumbled as Mickelson backed away from the ball. A security guard found the heckler, according to multiple witnesses, and warned him that he would be ejected for any other outbursts. But the damage to the moment had been done.”
Mickelson would finish 4-over and in a tie for 43rd. If not for the no-cut format, he’s preparing to head home.
“In the past, Mickelson has arrived in the New York/New Jersey area as a conquering hero. The galleries had adopted the native San Diegan as a hometown son, and one of the pinnacles of his career came in 2005 when he won the PGA Championship at nearby Baltusrol for his second major title.
“ ‘I don’t want to question it, because (the New York fans) have been so good to me,’ Mickelson said before the 2019 PGA at Bethpage Black on Long Island. ‘It can be a difficult place to play or it can be a great place to play, and for me it’s been a great place to play. I love coming back to play there. I love going to the area. I love playing in front of the New York fans.’
“This was a different scene, to put it mildly.
“It wasn’t that the crowd was against him – to the contrary, most of the fans who followed him for the first round of this 54-hole event were supportive. ‘We love you, Lefty!’ a man yelled as he walked to the 16th green, and in return, Mickelson smiled and nodded.
“No, it was the size of the galleries that was most jarring. At a typical major, the throngs would be 10 or 15 people deep around a green where Mickelson was putting, a gallery size that only 15-time major winner tiger Woods could match. Even at a routine PGA Tour event, the savvy fans know how to skip a hole ahead to watch Mickelson – or else get stuck without a view.
“That wasn’t a problem here. Despite LIV Golf saturating the market with free tickets via social media, some holes at the furthest reaches of the course only had a few dozen spectators watching. Mickelson, playing with Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen, had the biggest galleries. But that’s not saying much.
“It is just one more example of how far he has fallen. Mickelson arrived as a punching bag, both for sportswriters and the general public. The family of 9/11 victims, furious at the golfers who signed onto a tour sponsored by the Saudi government, targeted him specifically during a pair of protests held a few miles from the course. Even other golfers have teed him up.
“ ‘These guys – you’ve seen their interviews, right?’ former Masters winner Fred Couples told Golf.com last month. ‘Have you ever seen Phil look so stupid in his life? They know it’s a joke.’”
--WFAN’s Boomer Esiason is among those who object to LIV, let alone at Trump Bedminster. He tweeted this the other day.
“I love golf… I don’t have to love this crap. The former president is hosting this garbage over there, and these guys are accepting this money. It’s an insult to all the people who died on 9/11 and how their families were affected. But it’s also an insult to all the people who have died since 9/11, because of all the carcinogens they basically ingested, while they were trying to clean this place up to make it look like what it looks like now. And we live in the shadow of it. And when you go down there, you’re affected by it. Especially if you were personally affected by it. And that’s why there is so much outrage around this.”
--Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
“At first glance, a LIV Golf event looks like a professional golf tournament.
“The event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., which began on Friday, has a number of the top players in the world playing.
“The field features 11 major champions, five of whom have won at least one green jacket as a Masters champion. Thirteen of them have played in at least one Ryder Cup. Four of them once held the No. 1 ranking in the world.
“That’s more than representative. An argument, in fact, can be made that this field is more compelling than the one competing in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the PGA Tour event being staged this week in Detroit (in case anyone noticed).
“The Trump National course is a legitimate top-class track. It’s challenging and scenic. There are grandstands, even though the crowds are sparse, and there are food and beverage vendors.
“A winner will be crowned on Sunday and will receive a trophy and a check.
“So, there are significant parts to a LIV Golf event that feel real.
“Yet so much of it feels fake.
“After all, what does this all mean?
“The 48 participants already have received guaranteed money for merely showing up at the first tee (some of them paid sums that could feed a small nation lobster and New York strip steaks for a few years), so there’s no consequence as to where they finish by tournament’s end.
“There are no world ranking points at stake in LIV events, at least not yet. The tour has applied for them, but not holding its breadth. So, whatever happens by the time the final putt drops in the farmland of Central Jersey late Sunday afternoon will mean nothing as it pertains to any of these players helping themselves qualify for any of the major championships.
“The tournaments are 54-hole events instead of the usual 72 on all of the other professional (non-senior) tours, with 48 players instead of the usual 156 or 144.
“There’s a shotgun start for each round. There’s music blaring from speakers at the grandstands and tee boxes. It’s a weird feeling.
“It feels fake.
“Does it really matter that Henrik Stenson, the recently fired Ryder Cup captain playing in his first LIV event, and Patrick Reed each shot a 7-under 64 to share a two-shot lead after the opening round Friday?
“Does anyone really care?
“Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Phachara Khongwatmai, who’s in second place, standing at 5-under. No disrespect intended (to you or Khongwatmai), but you’ve never heard of Khongwatmai.
“Does it matter that Phil Mickelson, very much the face of LIV Golf (other than CEO and commissioner Greg Norman), continues to struggle? ….
“Mickelson, who ended his day with a dubious three-putt on his final hole, is being paid a reported $200 million guaranteed to play in the Saudi-backed tour. So, where exactly is the motivation to secure the additional $4 million paid to the winner?
“Are you fired up that Brooks Koepka (3-under 68) edged out his younger brother, Chase (2-under 69), by one shot?
“Are you immersed and riveted by the LIV Golf team competition, with Team 4 Aces (featuring Reed, Dustin Johnson, Pat Perez and Talor Gooch) entering the second round Saturday at 11-under with a slim one-shot lead over Team Majesticks (featuring Stenson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sam Horsfield)?....
“Didn’t think so.
“Sure, we’re being cynical about all of this, but how can you not be with the circus atmosphere featuring former President Donald Trump (who owns the golf course) parading around the premises like a peacock and music blaring everywhere while the players play?
“In fairness, there is entertainment value to LIV Golf. It’s a chance to see some of the game’s biggest names up close. The music is good.
“Maybe this thing will stick….
“More top players are believed poised to take the free Saudi money as soon as the PGA Tour’s playoff season is over and the Presidents Cup concludes in the fall. There are many legal dominoes yet to fall….
“Maybe we’ll get to a point at which this will matter and it won’t feel so contrived, so fake.
“That time just doesn’t seem like it’s coming anytime soon.”
--Henrik Stenson, as I noted last week, made multiple assurances he wouldn’t jump to LIV after assuming the Ryder Cup captaincy.
Stenson then defected, and he lost his Ryder Cup appointment, Luke Donald replacing him.
But speaking to the media Thursday, Stenson said:
“I don’t feel like I’ve given it up. I made every arrangement possible here to be able to fulfill my captain’s duties, and I’ve had great help here from LIV to be able to do that. And still, the decision was made that I was to be removed. I’m obviously disappointed over the situation. But it is what it is, and yeah, we move on from there now.”
What an amazing jerk. Remember, in March, when he was appointed captain, he said, “I am fully committed to the captaincy and to Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand,” amid rumors he was attached to LIV Golf.
--Charles Howell III played in his first LIV event this weekend. Howell is infamous for playing in over 600 (609) PGA Tour events, with $42 million+ in earnings, but has just three wins. So why not just bolt, at age 43? Such is the attitude of many of these guys.
But why also leave the friendly tour confines for LIV? Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Howell asserted the guaranteed signing bonus and financial opportunities were not the impetus to leave the tour.
“For me, I’ve been there for 22 years, and it’s been awesome. I’ve got nothing but great things to say about the PGA Tour, what they’ve given me, the opportunities, etc.,” Howell said. “But when this came along, I’m 43 years old, I’ve done a lot [Ed. you’ve made some money, nothing else of substance, Charles]. I still love the game. I love the game more today than I did five years ago.
“Now that my son is playing competitive golf, I’m even more incentivized in the game. This is something really new and exciting.”
The thing is, while Howell denied the money was a part of it, he also failed to get into any specifics on what exactly was the selling point. He alluded to the newness of LIV Golf sparking his interest a few times and a desire to travel. He also spoke to the benefits of the team component.
So weak. Does Charles understand his schedule is set for him?
Into the pile of ‘jerks’ he goes.
--Christine Brennan / USA TODAY
“LIV Golf and Trump, paired together, a match made in, well, somewhere. What could possibly go wrong?
“Let’s ask Paul Casey, the 45-year-old, five-time European Ryder Cup veteran who walked into Wednesday’s press conference with a solid reputation as a glib guy who never met a question he didn’t like and left as Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman’s new favorite sports washer.
“When LIV golfers meet the press, they should know by now what’s coming: questions about leaving their old jobs on the PGA Tour for new jobs taking millions from the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by MBS, who sanctioned the 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to human rights organizations and U.S. intelligence agencies.
“They also have been asked about the fact that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis, all the more fitting this week since Ground Zero is just an hour’s drive from Trump National Golf Club…..
“So far, the Phil Mickelsons and Dustin Johnsons of the world have failed miserably to substantially answer any questions and instead have fallen back on how they are working to grow the game of golf and make the world a better place for golfers or other important people.
“In that vein, I thought Casey might have a thought or two about using the platform he has been given on the Saudi payroll to influence MBS and his cronies by speaking out to help Saudi women and the LGBTQ community.
“ ‘As you know, gay people are subject to capital punishment, and women’s rights obviously are way behind men’s rights. …Would you speak out right now on those issues?’
“This is how Casey answered. He said he played golf with a 17-year-old girl in a pro-am at the Saudi Invitational earlier this year, and played with ‘another lady who’s a human rights lawyer.’ Casey said the 17-year-old told him things have ‘radically changed for her and her family’ since she took up golf in the last couple of years.
“Ah, the magic of golf. Hit a few golf balls and centuries of oppression evaporate, at least for one young woman. MBS couldn’t have said it better himself.
“And how about LGBTQ rights?
“ ‘It’s not a subject I know enough about to speak about,’ Casey said.
“Veteran Jason Kokrak, 37, was sitting next to Casey. ‘Yeah, I agree with Paul. I don’t know enough about that subject to speak on it, but I also got to play with that young girl – was she 15 or 17?’
“That was the banter, verbatim, between two professional golfers, world travelers both, who have lived for a total of 82 years yet have absolutely no idea how to say anything even remotely meaningful about the plight of women and LGBTQ people in Saudi Arabia.
“After the press conference, Casey was surrounded by a knot of reporters who had more questions for him. One came from NorthJersey.com, wondering about the 9/11 families’ criticism of LIV golf.
“ ‘My heart goes out to all of those who suffered a loss and been impacted by 9/11,’ Casey said. ‘I don’t have words to describe the pain and sadness behind that, I’ve gotta go do a photo shoot.’
“Ah, priorities. How convenient that Casey’s are now aligned completely with MBS’s. As he left the sad thought of the 9/11 families in mid-sentence and went to get his picture taken, his once-good name and reputation exited with him.”
--As for the play…after two rounds…
Henrik Stenson -9
Dustin Johnson -6
Patrick Reed -5
Carlos Ortiz -5
Talor Gooch -5
Phil Mickelson +6
Yes, Lefty normally would be heading home, without a check.
Well, I’ll tell you how lame LIV is…I’m been updating the scoreboard on the official LIVGolf.com site and, yes, you have to refresh it…it doesn’t refresh automatically like any good sports site. These guys suck…let alone no one gives a shit who wins.
But with two holes to go, Stenson was leading Matthew Wolff by two. As Derrick Coleman would say, “Whoopty damn do.”
--LIV Golf announced plans to expand in 2023 to 14 events, with 48 golfers competing for an unprecedented $405 million in purses. And LIV will stage additional tournaments in 2023 through its LIV Golf International Series, which was launched this year through a $300 million investment in the Asian Tour.
This is important…more on it in my Add-on as someone like Dustin Johnson won’t like it.
--Charles Barkley wised up and said he’s sticking to the NBA.
“I want to thank Greg Norman and LIV for their interest in me,” Sir Charles told the New York Post. “I wish those guys great success and nothing but the best.”
Barkley never received a formal offer from LIV.
Like this ended up being a very stupid story.
--Bryson DeChambeau said his highlight from his LIV pro-am round with Donald Trump was Trump saying, “there’s no other president that can hit it like I can.”
Things degenerated Saturday, as Trump was accompanied by Marjorie Taylor Greene. More in my midweek Add-on.
--Talk about stupid…Arizona QB Kyler Murray got all upset when word leaked out he had a stipulation in his contract requiring him to do four hours per week of homework, “independent study,” for the team’s next game.
Thursday, at an unscheduled press conference, he slammed everyone for doubting his preparation and maturity. [But the Cardinals obviously wanted the clause and Murray agreed to it.]
And now when the season starts, the pressure grows even more on the lad. $160 million guaranteed.
--In June 2020, Under Armour informed UCLA that it intended to terminate a 15-year, $280 million deal to be the school’s apparel sponsor, citing “marketing benefits” that UCLA didn’t deliver “for an extended time period” after all athletic events were canceled due to the beginning of the pandemic.
The deal was first signed in 2016 and at the time was the largest sponsorship agreement in college sports history.
In August 2020, UCLA then sued UA for more than $200 million for breach of contract. In September 2021, UA countersued, claiming the school violated a separate agreement by covering Under Armour logos with social justice patches on the uniforms of its football and basketball teams.
Now they settled and Under Armour has agreed to pay $67.5 million.
UCLA has a deficit of over $100 million in its athletics department. But in December 2020, it announced a six-year partnership with Nike and the Jordan Brand that pays the school $46.45 million. And now it’s headed to the Big Ten for its riches.
--A big win for England’s women today, as they defeated Germany 2-1 in extra time for the nation’s first major women’s championship in the Euro 2022 final.
Substitute Chloe Kelly (love the name) poked home a loose ball from a corner to send the record crowd of 87,192 at Wembley into a frenzy.
I watched a lot of the BBC pre-game coverage for this and what was cool, amidst all the crap going on in the world, is that it was a truly festive scene in London…all positive, all family oriented, all just good.
Had it been England-Germany for the Euro final on the men’s side, there would have been fights, drunken brawls, multiple serious injuries….
Because men suck.
[And there’s another political statement for today.]
--Norman Lear turned 100 on Wednesday. Rather amazing. Does he know the meaning of life? Yes, he says, “it can be expressed in one word: tomorrow.”
What pieces of advice does he have that stand out above the rest? “There are two little words we don’t pay enough attention to: over and next. When something is over, it is over and we are on to next. Between those words, we live in the moment, make the most of them.”
Does he consider a hot dog to be a sandwich? “I consider a hot dog to be a personal delight.” [Travis M. Andrews / Washington Post]
--Congratulations to George Ross, Jr., for his hole-in-one last week on No. 1 at the world famous Summit Municipal Golf Course…his first ever. It was a thing of beauty for those of us in attendance. Copious amounts of beer were consumed in the Muni parking lot after (and we weren’t arrested).
Your editor has never had an ace. Anywhere. I blow.
Top 3 songs for the week 8/1/70: #1 “(They Long To Be) Close To You” (Carpenters) #2 “Make It With You” (Bread) #3 “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” (Three Dog Night)…and…#4 “Band Of Gold” (Freda Payne) #5 “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder) #6 “The Love You Save” (The Jackson 5) #7 “Spill The Wine” (Eric Burdon and War) #8 “Ball Of Confusion” (The Temptations) #9 “Tighter, Tighter” (Alive & Kicking) #10 “O-o-h Child” (The 5 Stairsteps…great tune….)
1968 Baseball Quiz Answer: Others aside from Bob Gibson with an ERA under 2.00…
Luis Tiant, CLE, 1.60
Sam McDowell, CLE, 1.81
Dave McNally, BAL, 1.95
Denny McLain, DET, 1.96
Tommy John, CHW, 1.98
Bob Bolin, SF, 1.99
Add-on up top by noon, Wed. I just learned of the death of the hot Nichelle Nichols (sorry, female readers). I’ll have something on her kiss with William Shatner that changed America next time.