Sunday, June 17, 2007

For My Pops

I don't know if he'll like this article at all, but this one is dedicated to my Dad. He's always there for me, even when I screw up, which is probably a lot more than he would like. Anyway, my Dad is someone I have always looked up to because, well, he's just the man. I mean, how else can I explain it? Anyway, Dad, if you're reading this, thanks for always being there for me, and being the best Dad a kid could ever have. Love ya pops.

Is Hallmark still taking submissions?

So, it is Father's Day today, which means today is the final round of the U.S. Open. Oakmont, as predicted, has tore most guys apart. Going into Sunday, there are exactly zero golfers in red figures. The cut line to make the weekend was 10 over, so you know the conditions were calling for players to do anything they could just to salvage an occasional par. Here's something else I found strange: When looking at the leaderboard going into today, four of the top five are not from the U.S. (Aaron Baddeley from Australia, Stephen Ames from Canada, and Paul Casey and Justin Rose from England), with the obvious exception being Tiger Woods, who once again finds himself in the final pairing of a major. Tiger, who won both the British and the PGA last year, will be looking to win his 13th professional major, which would put him just five behind Jack Nicklaus' all-time record. He starts off today two shots behind Baddeley, and after a very impressive round on Saturday (-1, 17/18 greens in regulation), Woods will be looking to ride some of that momentum into today's round. Everything is set up for Tiger to win this tournament. Not trying to take anything away from the players in contention, but with Tiger near the top of the board, it will take an effort from somebody that, frankly, I don't think anyone has in them. The real story will be how far Baddeley drops today, because in the past, Tiger has regularly spooked whoever he's playing with. Here's the last two instances of this occurring:

2007 Masters 1 2 3 4 TOTAL
Stuart Appleby 75 70 73 75 293
1st T-7th
Tiger 73 74 72 72 291
2nd T-2nd

2006 PGA Championship:

Luke Donald 68 68 66 74 276
2nd T-3rd
Tiger 69 68 65 68 270
1st 1st

Just a small sampling of the way Tiger can get into the opposition's head. What's even more interesting is that Baddeley is on record welcoming the challenge of playing with Tiger. I appreciate the guy's heart, but I question the reasoning behind his comments. First off, if history says anything, it will be a "major" struggle, literally and figuratively, for Baddeley to even stay in the hunt today. Secondly, as if he needed any motivation, wouldn't those words perhaps ignite a bit of spark in Tiger? You have a guy that comes out and says that he believes his game is good enough to beat Tiger on Sunday? I can't really understand the motive behind it all. Maybe it's an attempt to psych himself up, but let's be real for a moment. This is Tiger Woods...on Sunday...against Aaron Baddeley. Let me say something right now: If Baddeley wins this tournament, then never listen to anything I say again. No, seriously, if Baddeley wins, then everything I've ever said is just a big, huge fabrication of the truth. He's a good player and all...he just doesn't have a chance in the world.

Ken Griffey, Jr. is having an amazing year, and yet no one really seems to be paying attention. Has there ever been a player who has fallen as far from the public eye, yet still plays as well as Griffey has? No one is coming to me at the moment, but think about it for a second. Griffey was the most popular player in the game for years while he was with Seattle. People were saying that he would crush Hank Aaron's home run record, and even one of the better sports video games ever had his name on it (sure the players' names were fake, but what other game can you hit a 600 foot homer in?). Then, in an astonishing turn of events, Griffey was traded to the Reds, and once the injuries started, and the Reds became perennial cellar-dwellers in the NL Central, Griffey, by all accounts, had fallen out of favor in terms of popularity. The comparisons to Aaron and Willie Mays were gone, and Junior slipped into the ranks of mediocrity it seemed.
He has played more than 100 games just four times in the seven years he's been with Cincy, and even with that, Junior belted career home runs #580 and #581 in the Reds' 8-4 win over the Rangers. Of course, when you think about it, invariably, you will start to wonder "what if?" about a lot of things. What if he had never gotten traded? What if he played in even half of those games he missed? But for now, take a second to appreciate this guy's accomplishments not only for his career, but for the season he's having right now. Junior comes into today's game second in the NL in home runs with 18, and an OPS just under 1 (.962). Griffey is 37 right now, and rumors have begun to swirl that the Reds may put Griffey on the block, and the White Sox have been a rumored location. This would be optimal for him, as he would be able to split his time between playing the outfield and being used as a DH, which would likely lengthen his sure-fire Hall of Fame career. If Griffey does end up in Chicago, and they do indeed utilize him in that capacity, expect Griffey to have another four or five good years left. Hopefully, he has found the cure for the injury bug once and for all, and can showcase the prettiest swing in the game for a good long time.

Today was brief, but I will be back either tonight or tomorrow to recap the Sox/Giants series. Until then, have a great Father's Day, and I love you Dad. Peace.


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