Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Old Dog for the hard road

For the past 9 years my friend eliot, myself, and our dad's play a little golf tournament against each other. We call it the Piss Pot Open, we have a trophy and anything. Eliot and I play our dad's in a handicapped match play format. In High School we went away on Spring Break to play, our graduation present was a week in Ireland chasing a little white ball around as Irishmen with impossibly harsh accents found our balls in unspeakable places as they lugged our golf bags around...

The "Piss Pot Open" was always a battle. It would take place over the course of the entire week. Each 18 holes match was worth a point, we would play 5 matches. Winner take all. Eliot's dad, Rob is a very good golfer and an extraordinarily funny guy. He always reminded me of Jeff Daniels. Rob had a saying, it was a great saying and as far as I am concerned he invented it. It was "The old Dog for the hard road." He lovingly referred to himself and my father as "the old dogs." The guys who were ready for the battle, the hard road...Eliot and I we were the "Pups."

Anytime a difficult or important putt was holed by them there was always the rallying cry, "the old dogs for the hard road." Many of my memories of these trips are also haunted by barking, never by my father. But by Rob.

No lead was safe against the "Old Dogs." They had the life experience, even though most of that experience was just simple life experience. Even though most of that experience was them just knowing that at some point we would make a mistake, we would hit the ball somewhere bad. And when we did, they were sure to make sure we remembered who we were... the "pups."

I remember Rob at Mid Ocean getting a hole-in-one on the 17th hole one year while playing in Bermuda. Eliot had hit his shot to about 3 feet, we needed to simply tie the hole to win the match. We walked up to the green and couldnt find Rob's ball (we didnt see it go in from the tee). Finally our grumpy caddie, Red, suggested checking the hole. There it was, in the hole. And there was Rob and my Dad exchanging high fives. And there was Eliot and I looking at each other thinking how did we lose a 3 hole lead?

As I was watching the most recent C's-Bulls masterpiece I couldnt help thinking that this series was turning into an "Old Dogs" vs, "Pups" battle. The C's were the "Old Dogs", the ones who were down. The ones who looked a bit old, the ones who had the experience. The Bulls looked like the "Pups." Desperately holding on to the lead. Desperately looking for a way to explain where the lead went. And in the end, trying to figure out how they lost.

I wrote a running diary and hated it, but I wrote this as my last post before I put down the computer and watched the end of the game.
9:23pm- Its down to Pierce at this point. No Ray Ray no KG. Rondo can help, but Pierce is gonna be the one to win this game...

I swear that is not a doctored/retroactive thought.

The C's are the "Old Dog." The Bulls lie in front of them as the "Pups." It's looked like the "Pups" are on the brink of turning the corner. But take it from me, a certified "Pup." As soon as you start thinking that, the "Old Dogs" use that experience and put you away...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts on things...

So...what a week of sports.

Bulls-Celts offering up one of the best playoff series in my memory (a short memory. But still...)
I was lucky enough to be at game 2 in the Garden. This series has been full of "Big Ball Shots"("BBS." As Ben "don't call me Jordan" Gordon proved in Game 4). Its funny to look back at the Celts-Hawks series last year. The Hawks gave the C's a run for their money, forced a game 7 and had Celtics Nation a bit scared. That C's team had Garnett. Now this Bulls team is pushing the C's to their limits. This C's team is playing SO MUCH better than the C's of last year's first round. These two teams have brought out the best in each other, and it has been really fun to watch.

If you want more Celtics thoughts from a true homer check out this from my buddy Tung...

Bruins Sweep Canadians
After some bitter loses to the Canadians in recent years the B's killed the Habs quickly and quietly. I walked into a Dicks Sporting Goods store this weekend and was inundated with Black and Gold. I thought for a split second I was in Pittsburgh or something awful like that. Then I realized that Dicks had flooded the entrance with Bruins gear. BRUINS GEAR! The inner struggle I am having right now is to not jump on the bandwagon... more to come on this later when the B's continue their playoff push.

NASCAR = Dangerous?
Um... a hockey and NASCAR paragraph in the same post... yes, its true. I am sorry. But this is pretty stunning stuff. Carl Edwards' car hurdled into the fence this weekend, in what I would call a perfect storm of an accident. If the fence wasnt there this might have happened...

Buzzer Beaters all over the place.
Is it me or have these playoffs had a bunch a buzzers beaters or late clutch shots? The Magic-Sixers Series has two games decided by a jumper hit in the last 2.0 seconds. The Celts-Bulls Series has been full of BBS's. I believe Deron Williams hit one for the Jazz to claim their one victory over the Lakers thus far.

NFL Draft
The primetime event was fun to flip to. I just dont care enough right now, mainly because the other big three sports are in full swing and taking up my attention...speaking of which...

How 'bout them Red Sox?!
9-0 homestand. I think the key for this team is winning on the road. They struggled at times to do that last year. Their performance Fenway is always good. Lets see what happens on the road. Ellsbury's steal of homebase was unreal. That series was unreal, especially as a Sox fan. To win three games in three completely different ways was great. The Yankees better sort out their bullpen or it could be a long summer of 16-11 games in the Bronx...

What to Watch for...

Rondo chasing the triple double again on Tuesday night. The C's return home in a must win (in my mind). I cannot see the Bulls managing to take 2 elimination games if the C's take game 5. Maybe Doc Rivers won't give the ball to Rondo at half court with 4.5 seconds left... maybe...

Sox are going on the road for 9 games. Finishing with 4 in Tampa Bay and 2 in New York. Could be in interesting study in the two Red Sox teams...

Will Ortiz start to hit? When do people start asking the know THE question. Oh come on, are you gonna make me type it? Okay okay I will type it, when do they move him down in the order. Was that not the question you were thinking I was gonna ask? Well thats the one I am wondering about. I will put the date at Memorial Day. If he cannot get anything going by then, well then he has to be moved down. It isn't time to reward a guy for past performance.

Enjoy the week in sports. Check back for a Running Diary of game five between the C's and Bulls...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A new Tradition unlike any other....

After a weekend of great golf viewing I am sad to say that one thing has not changed, and never will about the game of golf: Sergio Garcia's bitching.

This weekend produced a pretty great Masters, Sunday's telecast was two tournaments in one. Tiger and Phil battling to scare the Be-Jesus out of anyone above them on the leaderboard, and once they finished with a stutter the leaders created some drama of their own.

Kenny Perry choked down the stretch, something that is painful to watch. As a golfer I have done it, not on that same stage, but I have choked when standing over a five dollar putt, or over a 80 yard wedge shot on the 18th of match-play. I choke a lot on the golf course. Most of us do. The thing about choking on the golf course is that every golfer has done it. We cannot really say the same about most sports that we play leisurely.

Choking in golf is supposed to happen, the game gets into your head. It is such a slow game, letting instincts take over is so hard. The time between shots makes you think too much. Kenny Perry let the moment take him over and he shot +3 on his last 4 holes of the tournament (including his two playoff holes). The great thing about both those Perry and Chad Campbell is they took it on the chin and congratulated Angel Cabrera, who won with a lot of guts and a lot of luck. Kenny Perry high fived him when he made his unreal par save from behind a massive tree on the first playoff hole. He applauded the shot and they went to the next playoff hole still battling.

You know who wouldn't have applauded? You know who would have been standing on the back of the green chomping at the bit to race to the next hole of the playoff? You know who would have never uttered the words, "I am not out here to root against anybody."(Kenny Perry's words after losing.) I will give you a second to think about it... ready? Okay here is that person...

Sergio Garcia...

As someone who spends 35 hours a week with 10 year olds, I can safely say they handle failure better than Garcia. He is such a disappointing figure. He handles failure and success like an eight year old. His antics at the Ryder Cup in 1999 were distracting and child-like, when the team blew an historic lead he was ready to pout about the American's behavior after he had spent two days running around and celebrating every good shot he hit.

After losing the British Open and PGA to the hands of an Irishman (Padraig Harrington) Garcia had nothing nice to say. He simply spoke about the bad breaks he got and the good breaks other players got (clearly talking about Harrington but never mentioning his name). He didn't mention the fact that he missed several key putts, or that he had a putt to win the tournament and missed it by a mile. He blames everyone else, he blames bad luck, he blames other player's good luck. Well on Sunday afternoon after scorching the golf course in rounds three and four with a 74 and 75 he decided to blame the wrong folks, the folks in the green jackets. Whoops...

Sergio decided to make like a wedge shot and back-up quite quickly. He issued an apology after realizing that this blame-bomb could blow up right in his face. Its one thing to blame the golf gods, its another to blame Augusta National. Here is what El Nino had to share after his 75:

"I don't like it, to tell you the truth. I don't think it is fair. Even when it's dry you still get mud balls in the middle of the fairway. It's too much of a guessing game."

Ah the old guessing game. I guess it wasn't a guessing game for Cabrera and Perry and Campbell who beat him by 13 shots... but I am just guessin'.

Sergio's behavior has attracted some hatred around the game of golf. US Open fans at Bethpage counted outloud his "waggles" every time he was over the ball. He drew the ire of the fans after he complained that the rainy round on Friday would have been cancelled had Tiger been out during the heaviest rain. Instead Sergio was left to trudge through the rain and then complain...I wonder what his reception will be in June at Bethpage for this year's US Open?

All in all Sergio is a very talented player. I find him to be fun to watch, and at times I get sucked in and hope he can make it over the hump. After his disappointments I find myself turned off by him and his complaints. At this point I see myself reacting to him winning a major the same way I react to kids throwing a tantrum in a store and getting that coveted toy... They always get what they want...which is too bad.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Fantasy? Really?

When you look up fantasy in the dictionary you find that it has 10 meanings under the heading of noun. Here is a sample of some of them:
1. imagination, esp. when extravagant and unrestrained.
2. the forming of mental images, esp. wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.
3.a hallucination.
4. an ingenious or fanciful thought, design, or invention.

I am guessing that the guys who came up with fantasy sports would want you to look at the definitions and think #4 is the perfect definition. In truth they all make sense, however if I were to define fantasy baseball it would be like this:

1. A waste of time.

Last year as my team sank to the bottom of league I became envious of my friend Paul who swore off fantasy sports. He actually wanted to write a letter of resignation for this blog to the Fantasy sports gods. Well I am stealing his idea and writing about why I quit fantasy sports and about why I am better off for it. Here are my top five reasons I quit fantasy sports.

5. I suck at them...
There is no use in making you wait for this one. If I was some sort of Fantasy dynamo I would not this, I would be writing some article about how great I am . Truthfully, I was terrible. I tried football, baseball, basketball, I even gave golf a try, GOLF! I was desperate for some sort of success, I never found it. It was hurting my relationships with friends and family alike, and my love life was non-existent. I reached my low point last baseball season when I had 6 guys on the DL and didn't care. It lead to some emails from my buddy Kevin to see if I had died because my team was so far behind.

4. Conversation
We all know the guy (or girl) who loves to talk about his or her team. Not their hometown team, but their fantasy team. You are left to sit there and sift through their players in your head, what team they play on, how many homers they have hit, what their WHIP is. Everyone is Billy Bean. Me? I was more like Steve Phillips... You are left listening to them rattle off stats and point totals. I dont have those conversations anymore. And it is fantastic.

3. Employment
My precipitous slide to the bottom in my final baseball league last year was due to a lot of reasons. On of them was my job. See, I work at a school, a school that has kids that have too much free time and too much access to computers during that free time. Those kids also have fantasy sports teams. In order to make sure kids are doing their work while working online rather than checking up on the latest waiver wire the school blocked Yahoo sports. Therefore during the day I could not check my team. This was a huge hinderance to my ability to dominate my league, which would have undoubtedly happened had I had the chance to pour over stats while my students took numerous tests. I am a much better teacher than I would have been had my school kept Yahoo! Sports.

2. Enjoyment
This past fall was the most enjoyable football season I can remember in a while (and yes I am a Pats fan). I could watch the games without worrying about if Ronald Curry had a touchdown catch or if Tampa Bay's defense forced a bunch of turnovers. Fastasy sports to some degree have watered down sports fans. We have begun to cheer for players not teams. Is that really what we think these players need. We start worrying more about OUR team rather than our hometown team. I know some people can balance both, I couldn't and it made watching sports a little less enjoyable.

Man, fantasy sports is a time sink. Live draft? 2 hours, usually at a time when everyone is available. meaning it is a time when most people would rather be doing something else. And you get the one guy who is doing something else, so he takes forever to pick a player. Then you throw on top the fact that you need to scavenge the waiver wires for the perfect find, so you can brag to your friends (see reason #4). My time does not need to be spent figuring out who is going to start in place of Carlos Zambrano after his most recent bout with a water cooler. I have better things to do...I think.

So there you have it, my reasons for quitting fantasy sports.

It has been far too long since my last post. I will be back a few times a week, after all, I have a ton of extra time on my hands...