Monday, June 22, 2015

Catching Up - Spieth, Pirates, and Warriors

The finish of the US Open at Chambers Bay yesterday certainly was one for the ages.  A four way tie to begin the fourth round, Dustin Johnson (my predicted winner) holds the lead for most of front nine, Rory McIlroy makes a charge and folds, Louis Oosthuizen makes six birdies on the back nine and is tied for the lead in the club house, Jordan Spieth takes a three shot lead with a spectacular birdie putt on sixteen, gives the lead away with a double on seventeen, makes another great birdie on eighteen, only to see Johnson birdie seventeen and have a putt for an eagle to win on eighteen, and a for-sure two putt birdie to force a playoff.  Amazingly, heartbreakingly, Johnson misses a two footer for birdie, and Spieth wins.

What is the fallout from this Open?
  • Spieth now holds the first two legs of golf's Grand Slam.  This hasn't happened since 2002.  The hype leading to the British Open next month at St. Andrews for Spieth and his Grand Slam chances will be incredible.
  • No doubt about it, Jordan Spieth is now THE pre-eminent golfer in America, if not the world, and he doesn't turn 22 until after the British Open.
  • He is the youngest winner of the US Open since 1923, when an amateur of some note named Bob Jones won it.
  • For Johnson, it was a heartbreaking defeat.  As much as I like Spieth, as Johnson stood over that birdie putt, I said to Marilyn, "I hope he makes it because no one should have to live with what will happen if he misses."  He has had close calls in Majors before, but this one is going to be a hard one to overcome mentally.  I hope that he does and gets his Major sooner rather than later.
I am going to forgo commenting on the Chambers Bay golf course and the TV coverage by Fox Sports.  Enough has been said about those two things already.


The disastrous weekend in Washington DC for the Pirates takes away a bit of the luster from what has been a pretty special streak for the Pirates.  Prior to that Nats series, the Bucs had won eight in a row and, I believe, twenty-one of their prior twenty-six games, and had been doing it with pitching that was nothing short of spectacular.  While you hated seeing them get swept, perhaps what happened this week was inevitable.  As well as the Pirates had been playing, that's how poorly the Nats, a good team, had been doing, so some "market corrections" were due.  Next on the docket are three games with the division rival Reds, a team that the Pirates have had trouble beating.  Win two of three against them, and spirits will be lifted, no doubt.

By the way, I am stunned, although maybe I shouldn't be, at the over the top coverage of the Jose Tabata's HBP that broke up Max Scherzer's perfect game on Saturday with two outs in the ninth.  You'd have thought Tabata was responsible for snatching the Lindbergh Baby.  That is the ESPN-24 Hour Media culture in which we live, I suppose, but really...


A final comment on the NBA Playoffs that concluded last week with the Golden State Warriors defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games.  (I believe that I had that, although I did say it would go the full seven.)  The Warriors are deserving champions, and Steph Curry and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala were phenomenal in the Series, so Congratulations and Hail to the Champion Warriors.

Congratulations also to LeBron James who, essentially, dragged the injury riddled Cavs through six games in this series.  When he was doing TV announcing back in the '70s, I once remember the great Bill Russell saying that "Injuries are a much a part of this game as free throws."  He was right, of course, and the Cavs chances were severely hurt when Kevin Love went down early in the Playoffs, and whatever chances they had left were pretty much submarined when Kyrie Irving went down and out after the first game of the Finals.  What was left was a team consisting of LeBron James and four guys named Joe.  Minus James, that Cleveland team that took the court against the Warriors after Irving's injury was one that would have trouble winning 35 games in an NBA season.

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