|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
USA Men and Women Rule on the Track in Eugene
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
--In the opener of a two-game Subway Series at Citi Field, the Mets had a very nice win over the Yankees, 6-3.
But it didn’t start out well for the Metropolitans. In the top of the first, Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo went back-to-back off Taijuan Walker, both opposite field home runs, and Mets Nation uttered a collective “Uh oh…”
But then the Metsies roared right back in the bottom of the first with four runs of their own…a homer by Starling Marte, an RBI-double off the bat of Pete Alonso, and a two-run shot from Eduardo Escobar…4-2 Mets.
And it was a quality ballgame from there, with the Mets knocking out Yankee starter Jordan Montgomery in the third, while Walker threw six innings, three runs, for a quality start, moving to 8-2, 2.67.
But in the end, once again it was the Edwin Diaz show, who had a 4-out save to preserve the win.
Diaz has been phenomenal this season, 22 saves, a 1.55 ERA, but he’s been particularly special in June and July, throwing 18 2/3, 11 saves, and allowing just one run at a time when the Mets have been otherwise mediocre (26-20 after a 34-17 start).
More impressively, Diaz now has 81 strikeouts in 40 2/3, fanning the 81 out of the 157 batters he has faced. Twenty-seven of his last 36 outs have been punchouts. One of the best stretches for a reliever in recent memory.
And the Mets have Max Scherzer going tonight.
--The Mets received some help Monday from the Phillies, who beat the Braves 6-4 in Philadelphia, as rookie Bryson Stott had a double, home run and 5 RBIs. Not bad for a guy hitting under the Mendoza line (.196).
But Atlanta bounced back Tuesday, 6-3, and so in the NL East:
Braves 59-40…2 back
--The Juan Soto potential trade situation is rather fascinating, ditto the NBA’s similar cases of Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell.
Immediately after Soto turned down the Nationals’ ginormous contract extension offer, even though they already control him another 2+ years, the thought was the Mets and Yankees were the obvious two possible landing spots.
But now some, aside from talking about the Dodgers, are honing in on the Cardinals.
After all, they traded for Nolan Arenado two years ago, and Paul Goldschmidt in 2018. And the Cardinals can offer the Nats a compelling package of prospects and established MLBers, while having the ability to absorb Patrick Corbin’s bad contract, a major issue in this whole possible deal.
Monday, the Nationals opened a three-game series in Los Angeles and Dodgers fans let Soto know they would love to have him. He responded with two hits, including a two-run triple in a 4-1 Nats win. Tony Gonsolin suffered his first loss, 11-1, 2.26.
Washington beat L.A. again, Tuesday, 8-3, but Soto was 0-for-4.
--Speaking of the Cardinals, they lost to the Blue Jays in Toronto, Tuesday, 10-3, playing without the unvaccinated Arenado and Goldschmidt. What idiots, and assholes. The Cards find themselves 3 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central.
--A mint condition 1952 Mickey Mantle card is estimated to exceed $10 million when the bidding ends Aug. 27. Heritage Auctions is putting the card up. The current owner is a New Jersey waste management entrepreneur who bought the card for $50,000 at a New York City card show.
The current record is $6.6 million for a 1909 Honus Wagner card, which sold last year, months after another Mantle rookie card went for $5.2 million.
[Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from his 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight title bout with George Foreman sold at auction the other day for $6.18 million. Heritage Auctions in Dallas said the winner of the heated competition was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. Irsay confirmed he acquired the belt for his collection of rock music, American history and pop culture memorabilia that is currently touring the country.]
World Track and Field Championships finale
Sunday night, after I had posted, the U.S. women’s 4X400 team had a 2.95 second blowout over Jamaica, with Sydney McLaughlin running anchor.
It was the 13th gold for the U.S., one short of the all-time mark.
“We’re deep,” McLaughlin said. “We have a lot of really amazing athletes and we all put our 100% best out there every time we perform.”
McLaughlin turned a .73-second lead into the 2.95-second romp, two nights after her world record in the 400-meter hurdles.
The win was especially sweet for Allyson Felix, who thought her career was over and then was pressed into duty to run in the preliminary of the 4X400, so she gets her 14th gold of the worlds.
The other team members in the final were Britton Wilson, Talitha Diggs and Abby Steiner, Steiner having been part of the winning 4X100 relay team the night before.
The United States’ 33 medals overall were three more than they collected in 2017, and two more than East Germany won in 1987.
Separately, New Jersey’s other star athlete, Athing Mu, just 20, defended her Olympic 800 title on Sunday, but she had to fight to win it.
--So America conducted its first world championships on U.S. soil. We’re the sport’s “powerhouse,” as Sebastian Coe, leader of track and field’s global governing body put it, but after 10 days at historic Hayward Field, the world’s best athletes competed before few sellouts, offering a reminder that the country is "not punching its weight” as a market for growing the sport’s popularity, Coe added.
With the 2028 Olympic in Los Angeles coming up soon, USA Track & Field is working on a joint plan with World Athletics to have track and field be the fifth most-popular sport in the U.S. A 2019 study conducted by Nielsen placed it eighth. USATF said it will introduce a five-city domestic circuit beginning next year, with a stop in Los Angeles.
The thing is, Eugene, Oregon, is “absolutely an obsessive track and field community,” as Coe noted. But Eugene is small, only about 300,000 residents. I went out there for a few U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials and I could tell I was one of the few from the northeast.
But the crowds for the Worlds looked smaller than the Olympic Trials.
Part of that may be because, as one Eugene resident was overheard by Noah Lyles saying, “I know this is the world championships, but I’m all tracked out.”
Since May, Hayward Field hosted the Prefontaine Classic, the NCAA championships and the U.S. championships. It’s only natural you add a fourth big event in one locale, what do you think is going to happen?
There are some obvious events that should stay in Eugene, but there are other places in the U.S. that can put on a good show.
--Friends, I have to confess…I have hit a wall when it comes to LIV Golf. You know my position, but I’m tired of writing about it.
I seriously thought about trying to get a ticket for this weekend’s third LIV event at Trump Bedminster, to report on it, personally, but was totally conflicted.
Yes, I know I would have a good time, assuming the traffic was handled well. The weather on Saturday (when I would have gone) is going to be good, beer will be flowing, and you’re in the beautiful open air watching professional golfers.
But it’s a totally meaningless exhibition…if you choose to call it that.
And it’s Donald Trump this week. Trump has an extensive interview in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal and I’ll comment on that next Bar Chat, after the families of the 9/11 victims, who have assailed LIV Golf, hold a press conference on Friday to protest the tournament. Trump’s comments in the Journal on this group are pathetic.
For now, I loved what Jim Nantz said while he was doing the 3M Open this weekend with Nick Faldo. An ad for the First Tee program had just aired and Nantz blurts out, “That’s how you grow the game.”
The Great One has spoken.
More next time.
--I loved what Darren Clarke said about winning the Senior British Open Sunday, adding it to his 2011 Open Championship.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wanted to win this more than anything after I turned 50,” which he did in August 2018. “As a kid I wanted to win the Open Championship. As a senior, this was always the one for me. This trophy will look good sitting beside the other one. I’m humbled and privileged to have my name on both alongside some legends of the game.”
Gary Player, Bob Charles and Tom Watson are the only others to win both, which is rather remarkable.
Clarke, known to have a good time in the day, said he couldn’t repeat his all-night celebration in the wake of his Open triumph 11 years ago because the Senior Open trophy didn’t hold as much.
--I posted before the finish of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway and it proved to be quite controversial. NASCAR stripped Denny Hamlin of his win when his No. 11 Toyota failed inspection and was disqualified, awarding Chase Elliott the victory.
Runner-up Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota was also disqualified.
The penalties can be appealed and the cars (both out of Joe Gibbs Racing) were sent to NASCAR’s research and development center in North Carolina, but JGR accepted the outcome and apologized.
It’s all about the aero, and as NASCAR Cup Series managing director Brad Moran put it, “There really was no reason why there was some material that was somewhere it shouldn’t have been. And that does basically come down to a DQ.”
It comes down to the nose cone.
Believe it or not, the last time NASCAR believes it disqualified an apparent winner was April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ victory at Wilson Speedway in North Carolina was thrown out because of an oversized fuel tank.
Normally, issues with cars are caught the day before, or morning of, the race and that’s how you see drivers penalized, such as maybe you qualified fifth, but are placed in the back of the pack at the start after the problem has been addressed.
Hamlin thought he had a record seventh win at Pocono, passing Jeff Gordon.
--Everyone was kind of shocked at Kyler Murray’s $230.5 million contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals, including the $160 million in guaranteed money.
But now everyone is writing about a clause in the contract that no one knew about initially.
Murray needs to do homework…as in at least four hours of “independent study” before each week’s game. The team will provide the study material, and time spent in team meetings for normal game prep does not count toward the four hours.
To earn those four hours of weekly credit, the team will monitor Murray’s iPad usage to ensure he avoids activity that might “distract his attention” (actual contract language) while he does this independent study.
As in it’s startling how much mistrust is baked into the contract. As many have also observed, it’s a bad look for both Murray and the Cardinals. Like, if Arizona felt this strongly about putting the clause in, why are they paying him $160 million in guaranteed money? They had already picked up his option.
--Back to the NBA and the Kevin Durant trade scenarios, Boston leapt to the front when they made it clear they were ready to depart with Jaylen Brown as part of a package. The Nets, thus far, have asked for too much, including Marcus Smart, multiple draft picks and another rotation player, but for good reason, Brown, as he put it on social media, is shaking his head.
He’s an All-Star, second-leading scorer on a team that made it to within two games of an NBA championship, and he’s nearly a decade younger than Durant at 25.
PLUS, he’s a terrific defender and a homegrown star for Boston.
PLUS, he has a team-friendly contract for two more years.
--Actor Paul Sorvino died. He was 83. Sorvino was best known for his roles in “Goodfellas” and “Law & Order.”
Throughout his career, the Brooklyn native was an imposing presence on film and stage. He started on Broadway where he received a Tony nomination for his role in “That Championship Season,” before taking the film industry by storm. He starred alongside Al Pacino in “The Panic in Needle Park,” James Caan in “The Gambler,” and more.
But his most iconic role was as Paulie Cicero in “Goodfellas” and NYPD sergeant Phil Cerreta on two seasons of “Law & Order.”
Sorvino had three children from his first marriage, one of whom was Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino, who honored her father when she won a best supporting actress Oscar for her performance in “Mighty Aphrodite,” Paul bursting in tears. Mira tweeted Monday, “He was the most wonderful father. I love him so much….”
Sorvino used to say that while he might be best known for playing gangsters, his real passions were poetry, painting and opera.
So I know long ago I wrote of Sorvino for a different reason. I loved his pasta sauce, “Sorvino’s.” Seriously, it was far and away the best and I bought nothing other for years…and then it disappeared off the shelves. Never saw, definitively, why.
--And one of the most beloved figures in television history died…Tony Dow, Wally Cleaver on the ‘50s and ‘60s sitcom “Leave It to Beaver.” Dow died Tuesday after announcing in May he was battling cancer.
*OK….I wrote the above and what follows below, right after initial word of Dow’s passing was released.
BUT…then we learned that Tony Dow had not died, yet, and that his wife, Lauren, believed he had passed and told the management team.
The thing is, Dow is in hospice care and his son, Christopher, posted an update on Facebook:
“This is a difficult time. Dad is at home, under hospice care, and in his last hours….” [Emphasis mine.]
Having sadly been through the hospice thing with a loved one a year ago, the end is near…if not already here as I post.
So, sorry if this offends anyone, but I’m proceeding with the obituary. [Every major wire service ran the story, after all.]
Dow’s management team said in a statement (prior to knowledge he had not yet passed): “Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble. It was truly a joy to just be around him.”
“His gentle voice and unpretentious manner was immediately comforting and you could not help but love him.”
Dow, born in Los Angeles, had scores of acting credits during a career spanning decades, but will forever best be known for his portrayal of the popular and athletic older brother of Jerry Mathers’ title character on “Leave It to Beaver.”
The series aired more than 230 episodes during its prolific run from 1957 to 1963 and is considered one of the most influential shows of its era.
The show was the first acting role for Dow, who won the job in a casting call.
After countless roles on other series, including “Lassie,” “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries” and a regular role on the teenage soap opera, “Never Too Young,” Dow returned as Wally in the spinoff series “The New Leave It to Beaver,” which aired from 1983-89 and centered on Dow and Mathers’ characters as adults with their own families.
No secret “Leave It to Beaver” was my favorite program as a kid. I endlessly watched the reruns. The age difference between my own older brother and me, being similar to that of Wally and the Beav, had a lot to do with it.
--I know you all saw the story of the man in Lehigh County, PA, who died after his pet snake wrapped around his neck, but for the record, when officers were called to Elliot Senseman’s home, having been notified by a family member, they found him lying on the floor unresponsive with an 18-foot boa constrictor wrapped around his neck.
One of the responding officers was able to get a clear shot at the snake without injuring the man.
“Because the snake was so large, the midsection of the snake was wrapped around the throat. The head of the snake was just far enough away from the victim that the officer made a split-second decision and he proceeded to shoot the snake in the head,” said a lieutenant with the Upper Macungie Township Police Department.
The snake didn’t die right away, though, and it was a mess, as you can imagine. But it was also too late to save Mr. Senseman’s life. He died from anoxic brain injury due to asphyxiation, the coroner’s office said, which also ruled it an accident.
Senseman had lots of snakes in his house.
--A young teen died the other day at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area between New Jersey and Pennsylvania (and upstate New York). Everyone growing up in my area at one point or another has gone rafting, canoeing and such in the Delaware, but it can be dangerous with the currents.
This was the second drowning of the year there, but the only reason why I bring it up is there was a statistic from NJ.com that since 1971 at the recreation site, there have been 103 drownings, with 64 percent of these involving swimmers. Not one swimmer who died was wearing a “properly fitted and fastened life jacket, the park service said.”
--I have to say I’m proud of my alma mater for something taking place this week. The Wake Forest men’s basketball team is in Europe for a team-building trip of ten days where they will play in four different countries, but, more importantly, go to some ‘must-see’ sites such as the Churchill War Rooms and Imperial War Museum in London, Normandy and sites in Paris while in France, and the Van Gogh and Anne Frank Museums in Amsterdam.
You can imagine most of these kids have never experienced anything remotely like this. It can only help them become better adults, and hopefully better teammates. You just know Coach Steve Forbes will refer to their adventure at key moments in practice and in games.
The Deacs do have two key pieces for 2022-23 from England…Cameron Hildreth and Matthew Marsh, who will no doubt play the role of tour guides for their teammates.
--U2 appears to be headed to Las Vegas for a residency, a la Adele, who announced her delayed residency will consist of 32 shows at Caesars Palace between November and March next year.
U2 is reportedly going to be booked at the $1.8 billion, 17,500-capacity MSG Sphere when the venue opens, next to the Strip, next year. The band will have a multishow residency that will be spread out over several months.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted early Sun. p.m., prior to Mets-Padres and other stuff]
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
World Athletics Championship (Track and Field Championship) Quiz: The first official edition of the format you’ve seen in Eugene, Oregon (with tweaks in events over the years), was held in 1983, and every two years since 1991. Eugene is the 18th edition. Taking out the Soviet Union and Russia to avoid confusion, Name the six countries with at least 30 golds over the years, updated through Saturday’s competition. Answer below.
--The Yankees opened up their post-All-Star Game play with a doubleheader loss to the Astros in Houston, Thursday, 3-2 and 7-5, and the next time they meet could very well be in the ALCS.
And should that be the case, Houston not only might have the home-field advantage, but they’ll have a big psychological advantage over the Yanks, having taken five of the seven the two have played this season. Whoever has the better record in the regular season gets the home-field advantage and Houston, after starting the season 37-24, has been rolling.
Friday, the Astros ended the Mariners 14-game winning streak in Seattle, 5-2. And they beat the Mariners again on Saturday, 3-1, as Justin Verlander threw seven innings of one-run ball, improving to 13-3, 1.86!
So the Yankees then traveled to Baltimore to face the greatly-improved Orioles and won it, 7-6, as Aaron Judge hit two more homers, giving him six in seven games (after I wrote of his slump), and a MLB-leading 36 on the season.
But it was a very costly loss, as key reliever Michael King went down for the season with a fractured right elbow, King exiting the game after throwing a pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Earlier this year the Yanks lost solid reliever Chad Green to Tommy John surgery, and Aroldis Chapman, who gave up three runs on a 3-run homer and threw two wild pitches in 1/3 of an inning Friday, has been atrocious since coming back from his injury issues.
What was a huge strength of the team for much of the first half is suddenly going up in flames; King, with his 2.29 ERA as a set-up man probably should have been in the All-Star Game.
And Saturday, the bullpen blew it again, as did Gerrit Cole, the Orioles prevailing 6-3. Cole blew a 3-0 lead allowing Baltimore to tie it, and then the pen didn’t help Cole, as he ended up taking the loss (9-3, 3.09).
So entering Sunday’s finale, the Yanks had lost 8 of 12, the Astros breathing down their necks.
But the Yanks won today, 6-0, Nestor Cortes six scoreless (8-3, 2.48), Aaron Judge with HR No. 37, and Clarke Schmidt with a 3-inning save.
Houston is up 6-0 in its game this afternoon, so it could be a 1 ½-game lead for home advantage.
--As for my Mets, who play the Padres tonight at Citi Field, which will be sweltering, the bats have gone deadly quiet, New York losing the first two in the series, 4-1, 2-1, the Mets entering play tonight, 58-37, losers of three straight and after Saturday, a mere ½-game ahead of the Braves.
--The Mets need help the rest of the season from whoever is facing the Braves and Friday in Atlanta, Shohei Ohtani was throwing blanks for six innings, allowing one hit, striking out 11…71 pitches – 53 of them for strikes.
But it was 0-0 as Ohtani took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and he clearly ran out of steam, Atlanta pounding him for six runs, including homers to Matt Olson and Orlando Arcia, and the Braves cruised 8-1.
Saturday, Ohtani hit his 20th home run, but Atlanta rolled, 7-2.
Today, though, L.A. helped the Metsies with a 9-1 pasting of Atlanta, even though Ohtani was 0-for-4.
Mike Trout has been out with a rib injury. Yet another season where he ruins his baseball card.
--The Dodgers and Giants hooked up in L.A. this weekend, L.A. winning Thursday, 9-6, and Friday, 5-1, to take a 14 ½-game lead in the AL West over the Giants (San Diego 10 ½ out). Not exactly a lot of tension between the two this season in this vicious rivalry, which doesn’t preclude bloodshed in the Chavez Ravine parking lot, as happens from time to time.
But I mention Friday because Cody Bellinger had the big blow, a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth, and on a 0-and-2 count with two outs.
Even after this clout, though, it’s still amazing to look at the decline of the 2017 Rookie of the Year and 2019 MVP.
From 2019’s 47 home runs and 1.035 OPS, to 2020’s screwed up Covid season (though the Dodgers picked up a World Series title), where Bellinger hit .239, to last year’s historically awful .165 BA, .542 OPS, and this year’s .208 BA, .651 OPS.
He’s still only 27. He’s a free agent in 2024. It’s just going to be fascinating to see what the guy does, where he ends up….is he out of the game in like 2024 or 2025? I hope not. Bellinger was electric. The game needs as many ballplayers as possible like the 2019 version to put the fannies in the seats and get us watching on TV and giving a damn.
Saturday, the Dodgers won 4-2, lead now 15 ½ over San Fran.
--Toronto routed the Red Sox at Fenway Park Friday night, 28-5. In a game like this there are some stats that stand out, such as Blue Jays center fielder Raimel Tapia’s rare inside-the-park grand slam, aided by an awful defensive play by his counterpart, Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran.
Tapia hit an easy fly ball to center to end the top of the third inning with two outs and the bases loaded. But Duran lost the ball in the twilight and it went soaring over his head. To compound the problem, though, Duran didn’t make an attempt to go back and retrieve the ball.
Tapia raced around the bases, scoring easily, and it was 10-0. [Michael Taylor last hit an inside-the-park grand slam in 2017.]
Only four teams have ever scored more runs than the Blue Jays in the modern era: the 1950 Red Sox (29); the 1955 White Sox (29); the 2020 Braves (29); and the 2007 Rangers (30).
Toronto had 29 hits, six by Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who tied a franchise record (and he added five RBIs), while catcher Danny Jansen had two homers, driving in six.
Boston pitchers threw 228 pitches.
--The Phillies signed outfielder Nick Castellanos to a five-year, $100 million contract, after he had a 34 home run, 100 RBI, .309 batting average, .939 OPS season for the Reds in 2021, and had had success elsewhere.
But he was booed lustily Saturday as he went 0-for-4 in a 6-2, 10-inning loss to the Cubs. He’s had just 8 homers and 46 RBI, batting .245, .290 OBP, .657 OPS.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury asked Castellanos after if he heard the boos.
“Naw, man, I lost my hearing,” said Castellanos. Then he said, “Can anybody else answer that for him, anybody?”
“It is what it is, man,” said Castellanos. “I’ve hit lows in my career and I go home and get ready to play baseball tomorrow.”
He’s not a bad guy, and I hope he fulfills his contract….just not against the Mets!
--We note the passing of Dwight Smith, the former Braves and Cubs outfielder who was a runner-up for NL rookie of the year in 1989 for Chicago, and then was a member of the Braves World Series-winning team in 1995. He was 58, cause of death heart and lung failure.
Smith was a solid part-time player, batting .275 for his career, including that 1989 rookie campaign where he hit .324 with 52 RBIs in 343 at-bats.
His son, Dwight Jr., has also spent time in the majors, most recently with Baltimore in 2020.
--I was focused on golf and baseball this afternoon but did catch Tony Oliva’s Hall of Fame induction speech, and then Irene Hodges’ for her father, Gil. I need to get a transcript of hers to post for posterity. Very special, in terms of what this country is supposed to be about, but in so many ways no longer seems to be.
--At the 3M Open in Blaine, Minn. (TPC Twin Cities), 43-year-old tour veteran Scott Piercy took a four-shot lead, -18, into the final round over Emiliano Grillo…Doug Ghim and Tony Finau five behind.
Piercy, a four-time winner whose last ‘W’ was at the 2018 Zurich Classic of New Orleans (teamed with Billy Horschel), has led throughout but Saturday’s third round was an adventure.
The players had to deal with a 6 ½-hour weather delay, that tournament officials did a good job of predicting so that despite the delay, play was completed.
But Piercy played through a painful blister on his right heel that he said he developed Friday after wearing a new pair of shoes.
Piercy was playing well Saturday when the pain from the blister crept in, so much so that he took his shoe off in between every shot up until the 14th hole.
Well, today, Piercy was up five shots after eight holes, game over….until it wasn’t!
In a collapse for the ages, Piercy ended up in fourth, four back of Finau, who delivered his third career win.
But Piercy’s collapse took him from a projected No. 46 on the FedEx Cup list to 112, from 138.
Yes, he’ll make the FedEx Cup playoffs, top 125, and earn his card for next season, but the poor guy is no doubt a mess, going 7-over down the stretch.
Actually, a fascinating tale. I feel like I know Piercy’s career pretty well and he’s gotten in trouble with some statements he’s made, lost endorsements as a result, but I root for the guy. [For close friends of mine, he reminds me of Dave Kingman, and I’m a big Kingman fan, despite all his foibles.]
More on the FedEx Cup situation in my Add-on.
--Darren Clarke won the Senior Open in the UK at beautiful Gleneagles, though it wasn’t today, with lots of early rain.
Padraig Harrington surged in the final round with a 67, forcing Clarke to make birdie on 18 to seal the victory. So Clarke adds a senior major to his Claret Jug at the British Open in 2011.
--Henrik Stenson formally joined LIV Golf, along with three-time PGA Tour winners Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III, the three now in the field for the next LIV event at Trump Bedminster this week. Trust me, the PGA Tour and the fanbase couldn’t give a shit about Howell and Kokrak. Howell has just two top-10 finishes in the last two years and is currently ranked No. 173 in the world.
But Stenson for the Europeans is a different matter, an issue of character. He joins the list of the living dead among true golf fans.
Alex Micelli / Morning Read
“When the DP World Tour announced on Wednesday they were taking away the Ryder Cup captaincy from Henrik Stenson, it was understandable.
“Stenson signed a contract and, according to anyone familiar with that document, it did not include LIV Golf membership as acceptable.
“In fact, prior to announcing Stenson as the pick on March 15, the European Ryder Cup selection panel members – which included the last three European Ryder Cup captains, Padraig Harrington, Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke, the Chief Executive of the European Tour group Keith Pelley and DP World Tour Tournament Committee Chairman David Howell – were adamant about LIV.
“Stenson even addressed it in his press conference at Marco Simone announcing him as captain.
“ ‘Yeah, there’s been a lot of speculation back and forth, and as I said, I am fully committed to the captaincy and to Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand,’ Stenson said when asked specifically about joining LIV in the future. ‘So, we’re going to keep busy with that and I’m going to do everything in my power to deliver a winning team in Rome.’
“Isn’t it amazing what four months and millions of dollars will do to your moral compass?
“Stenson jumped to LIV, and the European Ryder Cup team needs a new captain.
“It would be easy to go on and put pins in Stenson like a voodoo doll, but he would not be in this mess if those five on the committee would have done their job correctly….
“When Lee Westwood declined the job because he wanted to focus on playing golf, the next logical step was to find the next-best candidate you can with no baggage.
“Stenson immediately came with baggage. He was always on LIV’s radar and Stenson, who has had his own financial setbacks, would have been a perfect choice for what was, at the time, a fledgling tour.
“The five committee members knew all this and actually postponed the announcement so they could get the I’s dotted and T’s crossed before giving Stenson the job.
“But why give him the job at all? Others fit the bill if needed – Luke Donald and Thomas Bjorn, to name two. Neither had the potential baggage that Stenson had.
“Instead, the group moved forward with Stenson and now, with egg dripping from their faces, must decide where to go next….
“The Ryder Cup has evolved from an exhibition to one of the largest events in sports, and both the European Tour Group and the PGA of America have a duty to grow and protect it.
“On Wednesday, the Europeans had to make a statement that potentially could harm the Ryder Cup.
“Beyond finding a new captain, the Europeans should take a serious look at how they messed this up and make sure it never happens again.”
Adam Schupak / Golfweek
“Say it ain’t so, Henrik, say it ain’t so.
“You, too, are headed to LIV Golf? And surrendering your captaincy for Team Europe? Rumor became official Wednesday.
“Of all the flip-flops, this is the toughest one to swallow because Stenson effectively admitted that the money – a reported $40 million up front – is worth more than his legacy and the prestige of being captain for the one event where money is never the concern.
“Beloved for his deadpan humor and practical jokes, Stenson, 46, has won a major, a Players, a Tour Championship and a silver medal at the Olympics during a career filled with highs and lows. Along the way, he lost his game and a sizeable fortune not once but twice.
“From the beginning, he was an easy target for LIV Golf, which provided a sudden chance for Stenson to regain much of his personal fortune. First, he was a victim in a Ponzi scheme in 2009 by his sponsor Stanford Financial. Golfers rejoiced when Stenson won the 2013 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup and was financially secure once more, but then he got bamboozled again and so one of the most fascinating elements of the Saudis showering obscene amounts of money for over-the-hill golfers came down to what did Stenson value more: money or the chance to be Ryder Cup captain? ….
“Stenson’s appointment in March seemed to put to bed all the speculation that he could be bought. He was given a choice and he had made it.
“ ‘I am fully committed to the captaincy and to Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand,’ he said….
“In the ensuing months, though, LIV Golf went from talk to reality. And the reality for Stenson is that his game is a shadow of its former self. He hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since the 2019 U.S. Open and has made just 12 cuts in his last 36 starts….
“The Saudi money is like the sirens call in Greek mythology. What man can resist the allure of all that lucre? If someone offered you $40 million just to do your job, you’d be hard-pressed to turn it down. You’d also probably wonder what’s the catch….
“ ‘He could have waited 15 months,’ Padraig Harrington told Sky Sports on Wednesday.
“Then again Stenson wouldn’t have been as attractive to LIV. Greg Norman surely loves that he’s thrown the Ryder Cup into disarray. But the Ryder Cup is bigger than any one person and soon someone who truly is fully committed to the captaincy will be named to step in as a replacement.
“Here’s hoping Stenson has found some better handlers for his money but know this: no matter what Talor Gooch may say, Stenson will never experience goosebumps playing for the Majestiks [Ed. i.e., the LIV teams] like he did wearing the European shirt at the Ryder Cup.”
--On the departure of broadcaster David Feherty to LIV Golf, I said last time I couldn’t care less, but John Hawkins of Morning Read had a super take.
Hawkins wrote of Rory McIlroy’s loss at the Open Championship, virtually the entire golf world trying to will him to victory, but “McIlroy disguised his anguish with another dose of the gold-medal sportsmanship that has made him so beloved: ‘I was beaten by the better player this week,’ he assessed. ‘To shoot 64 and win an Open Championship at St. Andrew is a hell of a showing and hats off to Cam.’”
“Win or lose, some superstars are a lot easier to love than others.
“In 2011, (David) Feherty’s popularity earned him his own prime-talk show, which Golf Channel aired through 2020. It received predominantly positive reviews over its 10 seasons and triggered a series of live, onstage performances to coincide with some of America’s biggest sporting events. He wrote a column for Golf magazine, authored four books that made the New York Times Best Seller list and made it abundantly clear that his political sensibilities were largely Republican in nature, grounded in an adoration of his country and public loathing for those who attempted to rob it of its precious freedoms.
“All the while, Feherty wore his heart on his sleeve. A red, white and blue one….
“In any context, some defections are harder to explain than others. As a golf announcer, Feherty has become considerably more docile in recent years. His incomparable wit has all but vanished, the humorous references no longer a part of his on-air repertoire. The death of his 29-year-old son Shey from a 2017 drug overdose, then the cancellation of his Golf Channel show, are attributed by insiders as the primary causes for Feherty’s less-vibrant dispositions on NBC telecasts. When the New York Post broke the news of his leap to LIV Golf yesterday, another well-placed source said the network will be happy to unload his contract.
“The absence of character that made Feherty such a hit could be symptomatic of a loss of interest, especially after 25 years on the job. With that in mind, why would a man about to turn 64 attempt the proverbial fresh start with an unproven product frequently criticized for its Saudi connections and dubious intentions? A league that claims a streaming option (YouTube) as its main broadcast partner and failed to attract even 100,000 viewers for its final-round coverage in Portland earlier this month?
“As it becomes increasingly obvious that some guys will forsake all other career-related factors in favor of money, Feherty’s political conscience and moral compass make his departure from NBC a shocker… Does he think his affiliation with LIV Golf will revive his Q rating, boost his off-course market value or lead to everlasting happiness?....
“If David Feherty can jump ship, anyone can, which only legitimizes speculation that Cam Smith and his Claret Jug are among the next batch of decorated players to dive into the Sea of Saudi Solvency.”
--Ernie Els spoke out this week on LIV Golf at the Senior Open at Gleneagles, Scotland.
In Els’ view, the LIV format – 48-man fields, 54-hole events and no cut – is not “real” golf. But he was quick to say that there is a place for those sorts of fun events in what used to be called the silly season. In other words, the LIV Golf series should be accommodated in the three months at the end of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Els said he discussed his thoughts long ago with the Saudi people and told them to play the events “in the dead season. That wouldn’t interfere with any of the main tours, it wouldn’t interfere with real golf as we know it.”
Els said the two sides, LIV and the PGA Tour, Greg Norman and Jay Monahan, must talk to each other and see if there is some compromise.
As for the World Rankings, as far as Els is concerned, there is no way those in charge of the rankings are ever going to recognize limited field, shorter than standard events where the pressure of making the halfway cut is removed.
Ernie said the LIV players will be forced to play the Asian Tour to earn ranking points.
“You can’t have a 48-man tour playing no-cut golf and expect the world to take you seriously. It's not going to happen.”
This is exactly my now long-held opinion.
Els also had this to say on the topic of Cam Smith: “He is in a great position right now. He’s entering his prime. He’s 28 and he’s got time now to win majors, and I wouldn’t want to put that under any danger of not happening. I would not at this stage go on any other tour where I might not play in a major again. I would play my golf and put myself in the history books as far as I can go. I would stay exactly where I am. Do what I do. The money is there – it’s already there. Besides, the way Cam is playing, LIV will be there and his value might go up. So I’d stay exactly where I am, in my lane, and try to win more majors.”
--Finally, Tiger Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, offered a few rays of hope regarding Tiger’s potential schedule down the road, as LaCava spoke to Dan Patrick on the latter’s show.
LaCava hinted Tiger could play in a handful of meaningful events before another run at the Masters in 2023.
“I’m still hoping he’ll play three, maybe four tournaments before the Masters,” LaCava told Patrick.
LaCava speculated Woods could play in the 2023 Genesis Invitational at Riviera outside Los Angeles in February. It’s an event Tiger hosts and benefits his foundation. LaCava also mentioned the Players Championship in March as a possible tune up, acknowledging the need for Woods to get in some competitive reps as better preparation for the majors he may opt to play.
World Track and Field Championships
--What a Friday night we had….
The Jersey Girl, Sydney McLaughlin, broke her own world record for the fourth time in two years in the 400m Hurdles, demolishing a deep and decorated field in 50.68 seconds to win her first world championship.
Femke Bol of the Netherlands was second in 52.27, and Delilah Muhammad finished third at 53.13.
I saw an incredible stat. McLaughlin would have defeated two of the women who advanced to Friday’s 400-meter final – while clearing 10 hurdles. You are reading that right. Consider, too, that she trimmed 0.73 seconds from her previous world record, which she had set 27 days earlier at the U.S. championships.
McLaughlin said after there is room for improvement.
“I think we’re all figuring out that, yes, there are 10 barriers, but we can run them a lot faster than people think,” she said, adding: “I still think that wasn’t even a super clean race.”
The Union Catholic High School (Scotch Plains, NJ…about 15 minutes from moi) grad is undefeated in the 400m hurdles since 2019, when she finished second to Muhammad at the world championships in Doha, Qatar. But she was 19 then. And now she’s just 22…the athletes in her discipline normally not peaking for years.
Muhammad owned the world record until McLaughlin burst on the scene and is an Olympic and world champion in her own right. And she still took bronze Friday at age 32!
As in, McLaughlin could rack up records that won’t be touched for decades and decades…with my ashes scattered at a site to be determined….or ASSTBD…as we say in the scattering ashes biz.
Femke Bol is also 22 and could be the rival who pushes McLaughlin through the 2024 Paris Olympics and beyond. But there is a 1.6 seconds difference between the two today, and if you watched the race, visibly, that’s huge.
In one of the other terrific races Friday night, American Michael Norman did it…capturing gold in the 400m.
Norman was a record-breaking star in high school and college at USC who hasn’t been able to live up to expectations in terms of the Olympics and worlds. But he outran a breakaway pack of four competitors to win his elusive gold in 44.29 seconds. The great Kirani James of Grenada, a former Olympic and world champion, second in 44.48 and Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith was a surprising third for bronze.
The American men swept the 100 and 200, and then Norman reeled in the gold in the 400. That’s U.S. dominance.
Norman is the first American to win the event at the world championships since LaShawn Merritt in 2013.
Meanwhile, American Kara Winger, in fifth place in the javelin and down to her final thrown in her final season before retirement, uncorked a throw of 210 feet 1 inch that pushed her into silver, the first javelin medal won by a U.S. woman at a world championship.
Saturday night, once again it was the American women who shined, pulling off an upset in the 4X100 over Jamaica’s All-World team. The team of Melissa Jefferson, Abby Steiner, Jenna Prandini, and Twanisha Terry ran flawlessly in 41.14 seconds, for the third fastest time ever.
It was an upset because they defeated a Jamaican lineup that swept the women’s 100-meters and won Olympic gold last summer, but they had a poor first handoff that set the team back and then Sherricka Jackson wasn’t able to track down Terry before the finish line.* Jackson had won the 200 in the fastest time since Flo-Jo on Thursday.
*Jackson covered the final 100 in a blazing 9.66, yet Terry’s own leg of 9.88 was enough because she had been given just enough of an edge after Prandini’s third leg.
There is no one in sports more fun to watch in a big event than the American women on the track, period.
Terry said: “You could have the four fastest women, but if you don’t have chemistry and the baton to move through the exchange zones, then what are you doing?” You go, Girl!
As for the guys, they’ve had their moments, such as with Fred Kerley in the 100, Noah Lyles in the 200, and Michael Norman in the 400, but the 4X100 relay is an entirely different matter and it came down to one simple fact. The baton pass for the final handoff was awful…Elijah Hall failing to get it to anchor Marvin Bracy in smooth fashion, and Canada’s great Andre De Grasse* held off Bracy, Canada with the big upset over the Americans, who took silver.
*De Grasse had withdrawn from the 200 meters days earlier while recovering from a bout of Covid.
Every big championship, something happens with the American men in the 4X100.
In fact, since 2000, the U.S. men have just a silver in the 2004 Olympics (another silver in 2012 taken away because of a drug violation for Tyson Gay). In the world championships, the U.S. has won just once since 2007, 2019, and now has three silvers.
Back to Thursday, Noah Lyles did the unthinkable. He led the sweep in the 200 with a time of 19.31, a tick better than Michael Johnson’s 19.32 in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and the fastest run at the World Championships since Usain Bolt ran his world record of 19.19 in Berlin in 2009. Teammate Kenny Bednarek was second in 19.77, followed by Erriyon Knighton, the 18-year-old phenom who ran 19.80.
Johnson met Lyles on the track after, a total surprise for Lyles as it was the first time they had met in person.
It’s the first time the American men swept both the 100 and 200 at the same world championships, and just the second time the U.S. has swept the 200. The other was 2005.
--The Browns, suddenly realizing they really could use some experience at quarterback as the suspension of Deshaun Watson grows nearer, signed former No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Josh Rosen. It will be Rosen’s sixth team in five seasons.
Rosen is hardly expected to compete for the starting job, which will go to Jacoby Brissett until Watson becomes available, but if Brissett goes down, Cleveland doesn’t have many options.
Rosen has been in 24 games, starting 16 (3-13-0), throwing 12 touchdowns and 21 INTs.
A ruling on Watson is due before the Browns begin training camp this Wednesday.
--Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is 22-23-1 as a starter, though with a solid 93.9 passer rating, 70 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.
For this, Murray was rewarded with a $230.5 million, five-year extension, including $160 million in guaranteed money.
The average annual value of Murray’s deal is $46.1 million, second highest in the NFL behind only Aaron Rodgers ($50.3).
The only deal in NFL history with more guaranteed money than Murray’s is Deshaun Watson’s $230 million fully guaranteed. Which really is sick, when you think about it.
--In College Football, the NCAA sent out a notice of allegations detailing blatant recruiting violations that include the distribution of about $60,000 of impermissible benefits to players and their families by former Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt, his wife, his staff and at least one booster, according to multiple reports.
Of the 18 alleged Level I violations – the most serious in the NCAA’s classification system – many outline thousands of dollars in inducements provided to recruits and their families in the form of cash, hotel stays and transportation during or after impermissible recruiting visits. Others are related to unethical behavior in which Pruitt, his coaches and staff members are accused of knowingly providing inducements, then giving false information to investigators.
Pruitt was fired in January 2021, two months after Tennessee launched an investigation. He was 16-19 in three seasons.
There are all kinds of allegations of providing extensive sums for hotels, airfare…Pruitt’s wife provided $12,500 in car payments and $3,000 in rent payments to a player and his mother.
Jeremy Pruitt allegedly doled out cash himself directly to recruits and their families.
All of the accused individuals were fired or left the school after its investigation in November of 2020.
Phillip Fulmer, previously the school’s longtime football coach and at time its AD, stepped down in a concurrent move.
Wake Forest’s current athletic director, John Currie, was replaced by Fulmer, after which all the problems occurred.
Currie had hired Greg Schiano to be Tennessee’s next head coach, but then the moneyed Vol alum rose up against Schiano because of his ties to Penn State and Ohio State. Schiano was never found to have done anything wrong at those two tainted programs.
Currie then tried to hire Mike Leach, and that blew up, Fulmer staged his coup, and Currie, thankfully, ended up at Wake where he is doing an outstanding job, typed the alum from the Class of ’80.
--We note the passing of former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jim Lynch, a member of the team’s Hall of Fame after helping the club win its first Super Bowl. He was 76.
Lynch played all 11 NFL seasons with K.C. and helped form one of the league’s most well-respected linebacking units, alongside Pro Football Hall of Famers Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier.
Jim Lynch was born in Lima, Ohio, and starred at Notre Dame, where he served as a co-captain on the national championship squad in 1966 and won the Maxwell Award as the best all-around player in college football. [Alum Mark R., at the school then, said Lynch was a total class act.]
After being selected in the second round by the Chiefs in 1967, Lynch played in 148 straight games to begin his career, missing his only three career games in his final season in 1977. He ranks sixth in franchise history with 14 fumble recoveries and earned Pro Bowl honors in 1968, his second season.
Lynch made four tackles in Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings, which the Chiefs won 23-7 in his only Super Bowl appearance.
--The $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday saw the return of Bob Baffert, in a sense, to the sport as he is not suspended in New Jersey and ran Taiba, who went off as the 2-1 favorite. Baffert was gunning for his 10th Haskell victory.
Taiba had won the Santa Anita Derby after he was transferred by Baffert to Tim Yakteen, his former assistant. But Taiba finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby.
Cyberknife, owned by Al Gold, who lived in neighboring Ocean Township for more than 30 years, was the winner, receiving a brilliant ride by Florent Geroux to edge out Taiba (Mike Smith up) in track-record time for the 1 1/8 mile race before a nice crowd of 22,138.
Cyberknife is trained by Brad Cox and earned an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 5 at Keeneland. [The name Cyberknife is, yes, for the non-invasive cancer surgery treatment.]
The Haskell is one of the two big summer races, alongside Saratoga’s Travers Stakes (Aug. 27).
It was at the Haskell in 2015 that yours truly witnessed Triple Crown winner American Pharoah win in his first race after the Belmont (but then Pharoah lost at the Travers, for which Baffert always blamed himself for running the horse there, before winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic).
--Jonas Vingegaard won the Tour de France, the 25-year-old Danish rider competing in the event for just the second time.
Vingegaard extended his lead in an historically grueling 20th stage comprised of countless hills and mountain climbs in record high temperatures. #globalwarming
--A 70-year-old woman was stabbed by the bill of a 100-pound sailfish that leapt out of the water and attacked her as her companions were trying to reel it in on a boat near the Florida coast, authorities said.
The sailfish stabbed the woman from Arnold, Maryland in the groin area with its pointed bill on Tuesday while she was standing in the boat as two companions tried to bring it in on a fishing line about two miles offshore from Stuart, Florida, according to a report from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.
The companions applied pressure to the wound, and the woman was taken to Stuart for medical treatment.
The woman told deputies that the attack happened so fast that she didn’t have time to react.
Sailfish are among the fastest fish species in the ocean and, like the swordfish, are recognizable by their extended, pointed bills made of Valyrian Steel, heretofore the only steel known to be able to kill White Walkers.
No word on the plight of the sailfish.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/26/69: #1 “In The Year 2525” (Zager & Evans) #2 “Crystal Blue Persuasion” (Tommy James & The Shondells…they should be in the Rock HOF!) #3 Spinning Wheel” (Blood, Sweat & Tears)…and…#4 “My Cherie Amour” (Stevie Wonder…brilliant tune…will sound great 200 years from now…) #5 “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” (Jr. Walker & The All Stars…best opening to a rock tune ever…) #6 “Good Morning Starshine” (Oliver) #7 “One” (Three Dog Night) #8 “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” (The Beatles) #9 “Baby, I Love You” (Andy Kim) #10 “Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet” (Henry Mancini…was #1 for two weeks about a month earlier…A week…#1 blows, but #s 2-7 overcome this embarrassment…)
World Athletics Championship Quiz Answer: Six countries with at least 30 golds since the first edition in 1983.
United States 180
Great Britain and Northern Ireland 31
China and Cuba have 22 apiece, if you were wondering.
Russia 42, Soviet Union 23.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.