Monday, July 18, 2016

Sunday Double-Header

Yesterday turned out to be a great day to plant oneself in front of the TV set for some primo sports viewing.  

It began at 9:30 when the leaders, and, it turned out, the only relevant golfers in terms of the Championship, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson teed off for the final round of The Open Championship, aka, The British Open.  Stenson led by one at the start, and Mickelson, now 46 years old, was looking for his first victory if any kind since he last won the Open in 2013, and what a performance they put on.  Over the course of the final round, the two of them combined to make 14 birdies, 1 eagle, and only two bogies (both by Stenson).  When it was done, Mickelson had shot a 65 and Stenson a 63, which produced a three shot victory for him in golf's oldest Championship.

To be honest, halfway throughout he final round, I felt that Stenson was going to win because I felt that Mickelson's forty-six year old nerves would give way and cause him to lose.  Didn't happen that way.  At all.  Mickelson shot a terrific round of 65, and I think I heard someone say that his -17 finish would have won all but one of the previous 144 Open Championships.  He just happened to come up against a guy who shot a superhuman round in Stenson's 63.

By the way, did anyone else notice that when Dan Hicks kept saying after the 16th hole that Stenson needed to play the last  two holes in one under par to equal broadcast partner Johnny Miller's major championship record low round of 63 shot in the 1973 US Open at Oakmont, that Miller had nothing to say?  And when Stenson sank that thirty footer for birdie on 18 to achieve that record tying 63, Miller again had nothing to say when Hicks made mention of it.  I don't think Johnny, who has now joined the Get Off My Lawn Club, was at all happy about they score of Stenson's.

And I always like the tradition that appears on the scoreboard at The Open Championship each year:


With the conclusion of the Open, it was on to Root Sports and the Pirates-Nationals game.  The big story for the Pirates should have been the six shutout innings, one hit, five strikeout, zero walks performance delivered by rookie Chad Kuhl....

...but, of course, the bigger story became Mark Melancon surrendering a two out home run in the bottom of the ninth that tied the game, 1-1, and which then forced extra innings that stretched out to 18 innings before the Pirates won, 2-1, thanks to Starling Marte's solo HR in the top of the 18th.

Games like this always produce some weird statistical occurrences.  For example:
  • Andrew McCutchen went a mind-numbing 0-for-8.
  • Bryce Harper went 1-for-6, and Nats' fist baseman Clint Robinson went 0-for-7.
  • Pirate catcher Eric Kratz went 1-for-6 which somehow managed to RAISE his batting average to .107.
  • The unlikely Pirates bullpen combo platter of A.J. Schugel, Jared Hughes, Juan Nicasio, and Jonathon Niese combined for a nine inning shutout.
  • Jerry Meals - remember him? - was behind the plate umpiring this game, and he had a chance to balance the books for the Pirates had he called a DOA Eric Fryer safe at the plate in the 16th inning, but, alas, he made the correct call this time and called him out.
And of course, the REAL star of the day was that little kid in the neon green Under Armour t-shirt that Root Sports kept focusing on from the time of the game tying Nats' homer in the ninth and throughout the rest of the game.  I loved him, and so, apparently, did the rest of the country, as the kid blew up the Internet as he ran the gamut of emotions over eighteen long innings.

Nice game to win.

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