“Masters-Toast to Tiger”
That accomplishment, at that place, at this time, amazing.
There may not be enough words to describe what we saw on Sunday at Augusta, in the 83rd year of the Masters Golf Tourney.
Tiger Woods, coming back from the trauma of debilitating back surgeries, and the destruction his personal life, marriage,and painkillers, and the loss of virtually all his credibility, put on a show for the ages.
A comeback of the greatest magnitude in golf, and a similar comeback in life.
Woods called it overwhelming, unreal, and was at a loss for words.
You only had to watch the final group of holes. You only had to hear the chants ‘Tiger-Tiger’ from a gallery that was 20-rows deep on the 18th hole. You only had to see the line of golfers waiting on the walkway coming off the final green, to salute the champion. It was a show of respect and affection for golf’s greatest modern day star, to do what he did.
For a man with the stone cold stare and glare, and the fierceness to his game, even he was stunned at the accomplishment. At 18, after the final shot, the outpouring of his own emotion was an exhibit we have not seen for years.
Him hugging his children, his mother. Him referencing his father, who was there in 1997 the first time he won.
The fist pump, the huge smile, the rush of energy. The fire engine red-shirt he wore. It just seemed to right.
Woods won his first major since 2008, the one he got at Torrey Pines. It was his 15th Grand Slam event, pulling closer to the legendary Jack Nicklaus. It was 14-years between Masters’ Green Jackets for him.
It might be even more impressive than the 12-stroke win he had at Augusta in 1997.
It may top the greatest day Nicklaus had, coming from 4-strokes back to win win in 1986, his last tour victory every. .
Woods did this, the come-from-behind win on Sunday, just days after saying he did not know if he could ever be the same player again, because his practices were limited by back soreness, and his putter rankings were the worst ever in his career. He admitted, if you cannot practice, you might not be able to play.
But for this weekend, all was right with him. His approach, to shots, his approach mentally.
His career comes full circle. His father there for the 1st ever win at Augusta. His mother and children there a the finish on Sunday..
It was as inspirational an accomplishment as the Augusta course has ever seen. And why not there, at the shrine of Pro Golf.
Woods fall from grace as a person, will probably never be repaired.
Woods re-emergence as golf’s great star has now been documented.
A historical day with the Green Jacket as the prize, again, and the restoration of his golf integrity solidified..
“Padres In A Pennant Race”
We are three weeks into the season, and the for the first time since AJ Preller took over as GM and Andy Green stepped into the dugout to manage, we can say, the Padres are in a pennant race.
Of course we’re just three weeks into this, and thanks to 13-games early, a couple of series with the lowly Giants, and more against the rebuild Diamondbacks, the Padres are off to a nice start.
Once you pay your taxes on the 15th, and the schedule turns to May, they play real people, the Dodgers, the Brewers and the Mets, all upper echelon teams.
This start of the campaign is not so much about who you are beating, but rather, how the kids are holding up.
Some good, some struggling, and that’s to be expected. This is not a sprint, but a marathon, a 162-games worth of baseball.
A look at what we see so far:
MANNY MACHABO….That is some glove, and we have seen an occasional burst of power. He entered this weekend series batting just (.234) but that is a small sample size. He seems so fluid, as if the game comes so easy to him.
FERNANDO TATIS…The glove, always the glove. Gifted, fast, quick twitch, wow. He has shown some long ball, and is hitting (.233) but he has been everything advertised as a 20-year old phenom.
IAN KINSLER…A strong spring, but a slump at the start of the season, and now the kid Luis Urias is getting some opportunities. Kinsler will play again and will contribute.
ERIC HOSMER…The glove remains good, the big at bats are still missing, as witnessed by this (.213) batting average and his 23M a year salary. Waiting for stardom to arrive.
WIL MYERS..A good start with the bat, and glaring deficiencies everywhere with the glove. Lost flyballs, bad angles to bly balls, dropped fly balls. It seems the outfield has land mines in it when he’s out there tracking ball down. What to do? Hopefully not playing him in centerfield.
FRANMIL REYES…A really slow start, hitting (.091) the first two weeks, but he does hit with power. He still lumbers out there in the outfield. Probably more platoon than anything.
HUNTER RENFROE…Probably the most complete guy in the garden and the quandary, play him all over, or plant him at one spot and let him play?
AUSTIN HEDGES…The mystery of his streak hitting continues, but there is no doubt about his glove and leadership abilities.
FRANCISCO MEJIA….Every once in awhile you let him catch, but that looks like an adventure on defense. Great debate, should he be polishing his craft everyday in El Paso?
ERIC LAUER-JOEY LUCCHESI….Pitching so well, beyond their years. Despite an odd bad inning, or a grand slam home run or a bases loaded triple, these guys weather the bad inning and come right back at you. They are anchors, young anchors in this rotation.
NICK MARGEVICIUS…This has been a real surprise, considering he never pitched above AA, and he does not seem rattled by anything..
MATT STRAHM….Maybe the glitch in the rotation so far, especially since he was so good in the Cactus League. They need patience with him considering it’s been over two years since he was a starter.
CHRIS PADDACK….He is backing up his big bravado with real major league stuff. The key is to monitor pitch counts, and stressful innings, but he has no fear out on the mind Very good.
PEDRO AVILA…That major league debut was shaky at first, startling after that, for someone who had not pitched above Class A ball. He spent four years toiling in the low minors, but seems to be growing with a wide array of pitches. For his debut, not bad.
KIRBY YATES-CRAIG STAMMEN…Excellent out of the gate, Stammen setting up Yates. Main worry, not Yates 7-saves already, but the overuse factor. Lots of appearances already.
DOWN ON THE FARM….As good as it has been up top, it’s not been good out of the gate for the kid pitchers. Cal Quantrill has an (18.00-ERA) in El Paso. Logan Allen is at (19.80) in El Paso. Adrian Morejon (10.13) in Amarillo. Lots of starts still to come, so we bide out time watching and writing about them. Small sample size, lots of summer starts still to come.
“Lakers-The Magic-Replaced by a Quitter”
It was a shocker, without a rationale explanation.
Magic Johnson, the most popular Laker in its great history, has walked out on the franchise, leaving it in disarray.
This from a man who brought the franchise together in its glory years run, leading them to NBA titles, and likely saving the franchise and maybe even the league with his arrival corresponding to Larry Bird and then Michael Jordan.
It was a coward’s way out of the job he created, wanted, then failed at.
He never spoke to owner Jeannie Buss. He never told his GM-Rob Pelinka. There was no communication with LeBron James, whom he lured to LA just 9-months ago.
Instead, Magic became Magic, doing what he wanted, bailing on the franchise. Just like when he wanted to try coaching, and talked his way into that job with disastrous results, a 10-game losing streak. Doing what he wanted, by being a party animal and contracting the HIV virus so many years ago.
Magic views himself as an ambassador of everything. The NBA, business development, owning a piece of the Dodgers, but his staying power on these projects short lived.
He wants to operate by his own rules, work when he wants, play golf when he wants, be a TV celebrity when he wants.
He lasted less than two years with the Lakers, as losses piled upon losses. His player acquisitions aside from writing a Buss family check to get King James, have been disastrous.
He eroded the lockeroom by attempting to package all his young players in the ill-fated Anthony Davis-New Orleans trade talks.
He hired the GM-Rob Pelinka but has seemingly turned on him. He wanted to oust his coach. He signed 4-free agents in the off season to compliment James, none of whom was a difference maker.
You tell me what his glowing accomplishments are since his playing days ended?
And it was much the same when he wanted to be the face, the spokesman of the Dodgers.
A group of tampering fines later, he realized he couldn’t do what he wanted to do.
Oh he was beloved as a player, but that was a long time ago.
Insinuations everywhere that he was never committed to do the job the way a lead basketball exec should, grind thru the season, scout, work hard at the league level, help your players grow. None of that happened.
Insinuations too of some personal clashes with his own employees, in a story that has still yet to be exposed, but is rumored coming, and will paint him in a poor light.
He didn’t like the backstabbing he observed in the front office or his lockerroom, yet these were his hires, his player signings, and he was never around to deal with it.
He didn’t like the criticism, but it was his organization that paid LeBron James all that money, then let James become disinterested in the team, while the player was out about developing his post career business entities in Los Angeles. His player, his problems now.
These type of hires never work out. As great as they were, Michael Jordan has had no success in Charlotte, and he is viewed as a Magic type exec, fly in, do some work, go play golf and go to the casinos.
Larry Bird never really accomplished a lot with his home state Indiana Pacers. Kevin McHale got bounced out of Minnesota. Elgin Baylor’s great career ended badly as the leader of the woeful LA Clippers.
And now Earvin Johnson can put his name next to them as failures in the front office.
The Lakers history has been written by doers, like legendary owner Jerry Buss and then his General Manager Jerry West.
They were the catalyst who made deals that brought Johnson to LA, James Worthy,, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. and so many more.
The NBA has changed, so much for the bad, that you have to placate the stars, whether it’s LeBron, or Anthony Davis, or Kevin Durant. Magic Johnson wanted to be placated and be allowed to do what he wanted as the team continues to flounder.
Who could have thought it would be six years without a playoff spot.
Where do they go from here? They need great leadership, with values, work ethic and basketball smarts.
Jerry West is in his 80’s. Legendary owner Jerry Colangelo is from a different era. Pat Riley is still in Miami. Phil Jackson is retired with health issues.
Magic Johnson has left the Lakers in chaos, and left his reputation in tatters, regardless of the stupidity of Lakers fans who think he can do no wrong. Look at what he has done to set the franchise back again.
The season opened with a thundering slam dunk by LeBron James in the opening minutes against Portland. It ended like a devastating blocked shot, a thundering rejection with Johnson quitting on the job an hour before the final game of the season began against Portland..
The Lakers are in chaos. Even their legendary star wants out from the mess he created.
You’d never think you’d put his name in the same sentence with the verb to describe what just happened.
Magic Johnson is a quitter.
“NHL Playoffs-Toughest Trophy to Get”
It’s here. You can feel it in the arena. You will feel it if you ever put on the crest in the room. You can sense it from the opening face-off.
Cut on bridge of the nose
Stitches on the chin
A Black Eye
Little Blood on the jersey
It’s hockey’s real season. It’s NHL playoff season, and the grind begins with the eight first round series, four beginning on Wednesday, the other four on Thursday.
The survivors will stagger to the 1st week of June when somebody hoists the Stanley Cup. There will be upsets…unsung heroes..red hot goaltending…a few fights….and lots of fireworks.
It won’t be the LA Kings nor the Anaheim Ducks, both of whom finished substandard seasons, that cost both head coaches their jobs, and likely will cost some players their roster spots before the summer and off season is complete.
The Kings face a massive overhaul. Age, injuries, lots of bad contracts. They have had a good run, but now the backside of careers and big dollar signs are staring them right int the face. Somebody leaves as a youth movement begins, maybe goalie Jonathon Quick. The organization has failed in lots of areas.
The Ducks, with a history of good drafting, seem a couple of steps already into transition. They have a fleet of young draft picks, many in San Diego with the Gulls, some in the Canadian junior ranks, poised to make the next step. They are tied down too, to some big contracts with aging stars, but it’s doubtful it will end badly for quality people like Ryan Getzlaf nor Corey Perry. This organization has not let anyone down.
The matchups this spring are awesome. So will be the pressure on lots of people.
TORONTO-BOSTON..The Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967, despite being the richest and biggest heritage franchise in the sport. Mike Babcock has been building towards this, and now we see if John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and others can grind their way thru this Boston Bruins series against a Beantown team that has almost equal firepower, names like Bergeron-Pastrnek-Marchand. You have to be rugged to get thru this..
WASHINGTON-CAROLINA…Washington has Alexander Ovechkin of 50-60 goal fame, but has 7-others who have scored 20-or more goals, plus goalie Braden Holtby. Carolina’s vacation and golf off season will start pretty quickly.
PITTSBURGH-ISLANDERS…Pittsburgh still has Sir Sidney Crosby, but it has been a strange Penguins season. So much more expected from Evegeni Malkin, Phil Kessell and sniper Jake Guenztel. Goalie Matt Murray is hot. Who are these New York Islanders? Coach Barry Trotz and Jordan Eberle and a bunch of no names. It’s not the Mike Bossy led Islanders, but they have had a good season.
TAMPA BAY-COLUMBUS…Tampa Bay makes you love freewheeling hockey. A 61-win season, lots of firepower, with 40-goals scorers Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden Point. They are not a nationwide household name, but they are so good. Pity John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending. This will be hard.
WINNIPEG-ST LOUIS….There were issues early in St Louis…and then a solution…the players did it. Coaching issues. Huge losing streak early, and then they fix it. Did they ever. The Blue roll to a (30-10-5) record from Christmas on. Goalie Jordan Bennington is (24-5-1) and everybody scores, led by Vlad Tarasenko and Ryan O’Rielly. Winnipeg is not just the team they were last year, when they became everyone’s darlings. Emotionally something is missing. MIA Patrick Laine has 1-goal in the last 19-games-38 days. How is that possible. It’s just not the same group last year when people marveled at when we saw Little-Scheifele and Wheeler.
LAS VEGAS-SAN JOSE…..San Jose has so much history. Huge goal scorers, firepower, and imposing defense. Las Vegas is doing this for just the second time ever, this post season thing. Freight train collision coming. Joe Thornton, Logan Coture and others, backed by Erik Karlsson and Britt Burns. Can G-Martin Jones keep the Knights big line of Mark Stone-Max Pacioretty-Paul Stasny off the score sheet. Then the Sharks have to deal with the Marchessault-Karlsson line too. Going to be a great series.
CALGARY-COLORADO….Calgary has loads of firepower, and has grown as a team. It’s been fun watching Johnny Hockey-Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan-Matt Tkachuck make this come together on the Red Mile in Calgary. Colorado got into the playoffs, thank you Nathan McKinnon and Phillip Grubaer, but they just don’t seem to have enough.
DALLAS-NASHVILLE…..The Nashville series with Dallas, it’s going to be strange. Will anyone score goals? The Predators are just not the same team from a firepower standpoint, 25th in scoring. Dallas is number one in team defense and 6’7 goalie Ben Bishop is having a monster season.
You can tell it’s that time of the year. The stubble on the chin, the gash on the nose, the black eye, a little blood on the uniform.
All out…every shift…every night. Take no penalties. Take no prisoner.
It’s the best time of the year….the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs about to begin.
Lord Stanley’s goblet…the toughest trophy in sports to get.