The Weekend in Sports
I managed to watch a lot of sports this weekend, and while, for the most part, the games weren't that close, I found them particularly enjoyable. So with no further ado, a brief report:
1. Let's start with the Boston Massacre II. (The first one was in 1978 when the Yanks came up to Fenway and swept the BoSox in a four game set outscoring them 42-9. Yes, I know there was also one in 1770 but it did not involve the NY Yankees.) While a final game is currently in progress (0-0 in the 3rd), the Yankees have gone to Fenway and beaten the Red Sox every which way. The first and third games were just old fashion throttlings. In the second game, the Yanks were down 10-8 with two outs in the 7th inning and proceeded to score 6 times. The key hit by . . . Derek Jeter (of course). That was the longest 9 inning game in MLB history, clocking in at a not so manageable 4 hours and 45 minutes.
But last night's game was by far the best of the bunch. The Yanks scored in the 8th and 9th to tie the game (doing so off of rookie phenom Jonathan Papelbon, who has been hittable for the past month or so) and then 3 in the 10th to win it. Once again, Derek Jeter had the key hit, a two out flair single in the 9th to tie the game, the first time the Yanks won a game at Fenway in which they were one out from losing since September 1991--a game I happened to attend! Jeter's performance this weekend has done nothing to hurt his chances of finally winning an MVP (he has gotten votes every year since 1996 except for 2002) although Ortiz definitely has a strong case as well. We'll delve into that debate at another time.
While the Yankees have some weaknesses, the middle relief--their biggest problem--is starting to come around. Scott Proctor has pitched very well of late as has Ron Vallone (although he gave up a bomb to Ortiz last night). Mike Meyers is a good left handed specialist, and Farnsworth is serviceable. And, of course, Rivera to end the game is the best. Ever. Whatever happens today, the Red Sox are likely toast--their pitching is awful, and it is amazing (and a testament to Ortiz and Ramirez) that their record is as good as it is. So while all Yankee fans would love the 5 game sweep, regardless of today's outcome, September should be much more relaxing in the Bronx than in Beantown. October will be another story.
2. While we are on baseball, just a brief shout out to the Twins, who look quite tough coming down the stretch. They are still a game behind the ChiSox in the Wild Card race having taken 2 of 3 this weekend, but if Liriano can come back, they should make the postseason. And they just don't lose with Santana on the mound. He is amazing. Hugo Chavez must be so proud. I'm surprised he hasn't tried to nationalize him.
3. But this is (once again) a Tiger weekend. Every major he wins features some new facet to his game. And once again, when he is prowling, everyone else just falls back. While Nicklaus was regularly challenged (and defeated) by Player, Trevino, and Watson, almost no one has ever gone toe to toe with Tiger and won. (An argument could be made that Michael Campbell and Rich Beem did, but Tiger was trailing at the start of the final round in both tournaments and never led, I believe, on Sunday.) In fact, with rare exception (Chris DiMarco, Bob May), no one even bothers to go toe to toe when Tiger is ahead.
Yesterday, he went out and played immaculate golf for the first 6 holes. Then, when his play was less perfect, he made some amazing shots. On 7, he hit a 5 wood from 250 yards to 15 feet after hitting a terrible drive. (Phil would have tried to hit a great second shot and possibly made 6 or worse while Tiger just punched out.) On 8 he makes a 35 foot putt for birdie, on 9 a great up and down. And with no one making a move, the tournament, in which 8 players were tied early on Saturday, was over after less than 9 holes on Sunday.
Tiger is going to end up with more than 20 majors. I remember when Jack won his 18th at the '86 Masters and thinking that no one could come close. (Jack counts his two US Amateurs to his major count to give him an even 20, but by that count Tiger has 15 as he won 3 Amateurs.) I'm intrigued to see if Tiger can end up with the most titles at each of the four majors. The records: 6 Masters (Nicklaus) and Tiger has 4; 4 U.S. Opens (Nicklaus, Hogan, and Willie Anderson), Tiger has 2; 6 British Opens (Harry Vardon), Tiger has 3; and 5 PGAs (Nicklaus and Walter Hagen), Tiger has 3. So it's definitely doable, and if he keeps playing the way he has, it will happen.
4. I do not care in the least about preseason football. The only way I would care is if Joe Gibbs or some other coach asked me a play a few downs for my own Rudy moment. It is meaningless, and anyone who bets on these games really needs to get some help.
However, I was at a bar on Saturday night were one of the televisions was tuned to the Nats game. As I do not have MASN (although I will as of next Friday! Finally!), I had not seen what it airs other than Nats games. The channel just went to 24 hour coverage, and now I know what a start up sports network televises on a Saturday night--taped CFL games. I'm sure many of you wagered on the battle between the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes, so I'm sure it got a great rating. I guess you want to find cheap sports programming, and they found it. I'm also sad that since 2002, there were no longer two teams in the CFL called the Rough Riders/Roughriders. Yes, Ottawa folded, leaving only the Saskatchawan Roughriders. What a league!