Sports Outside the Beltway

In Bee Park wins the US Women’s Open

Second year player Inbee Park made the US Open her first win on the tour. Inbee winning by four shots.

In Bee, who is a few weeks short of her 20th birthday, is the youngest US Women’s Open Champ ever. The youngest winner of the US Open before today was South Korea’s Se Ri Pak. Pak winning the 1998 US Open. In Bee like so many of the other players from the ROK say Se Ri Pak and her success on the LPGA was what inspired them to play pro golf.

In Bee made it look pretty simple today. Two birdies to start off the round, and after double bogeys by Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer on the Par five 2nd, all of a sudden Park was up by two shots.

It did get interesting for a while. Especially after In Bee made bogeys on holes 6 and 8 to bring her back to a tie for the lead. The turning point was a par saving from 15 or 20 feet on the difficult 9th. After that Inbee soon regained the lead and was never in serious danger again. Helen Alfredsson of Sweden finished in solo second four shots behind Park. In a tie for 3rd one shot further back were Lewis, In-Kyung Kim and Angela Park.

Other news, thoughts, observations,

*- Annika Sorenstam holed her approach on 18 for what COULD BE her final shot in US Open history. She hitting a 6-iron into the cup from 199 yards. What a way to go out if Sorenstam doesn’t play in the Open again.

*- Stacy Lewis shot a final round 78 today. To be honest, I don’t think she lost the tournament. Lewis played play as bad as her score says because the conditions today were tough. Winds blowing at times 20-30 MPH. I’m predicting Lewis will be back in contention for a LPGA victory within a year.

*- Lewis’ winnings today won’t count towards the sum she needs to gain a spot on the LPGA Tour. See the tour doesn’t count money at the US Open when determining if a player exceeded the amount required.

Which really makes no sense to me. The Open is the toughest test of golf on tour. So the money is worth more for a 3rd there, than say a 3rd in Rochester. Therefore I think its a better indicator of whether a player should get a card or not.

When asked who set this policy, an NBC announcer(I think Dottie Pepper) said ‘no comment’.

*- There’s another LPGA policy I’m going to question in a post tomorrow or later this week. Should a Naturalized US citizen(Angela Park) be allowed to compete for a Solheim Cup spot? LPGA policy at this time doesn’t allow it. The screwball thing is, a Naturalized citizen can qualify for the Curtis Cup(and has at least once) and the Junior Solheim Cup! If they can play for the Junior, why not the professional then? I’ll address this and the reasons given for the policy.

*- Paula Creamer collapsed today. I’m not going to speculate on why she can’t bring home a major yet. Stu at The Waggleroom compared Paula’s collapse to Greg Norman’s at the 1996 Masters and Michelle Wie at the 2005 Women’s US Open.

I think I got a better comparison. Gary Player’s final round 77 at the 1978 US Open. Why do I say this?

A- Paula entered the final round one shot out of the lead. So did Player. Norman and Wie entered the final rounds of their tournaments either in the lead by themselves or tied.

B- Creamer and Player both finished tied for 6th in the tournaments I’m comparing. Norman finished 2nd, Wie out of the top 10.

C- Player and Creamer were under great amounts of pressure. Gary Player because he was the 1978 Masters Champ and therefore the only player with a chance for a grand slam. Creamer because she has been anointed the best player on tour without a major by most of the press.

Norman had won majors before the 96 Masters. Wie hadn’t won tour, major or otherwise. I think Player in 78 is a better analogy to Creamer today than either Wie or Norman.

*- With their third win in the last four LPGA events, I think we can safely say the South Korean slump is over on the LPGA Tour.

*- For the first time, I saw why Paula Creamer has been teapot by some members of the media. After a bad or indifferent shot on the back nine today, Paula put her hands on her hips. The teapot pose as somebody called it.

*- I don’t recall Johnny Miller making any insulting comments today but he did make a clueless comment. Towards the end of the round Miller saying women’s golf is more popular in South Korean than men’s golf. It’s been that way since Se Ri Pak won the LPGA Championship in 1998 at least. Where has Johnny Miller been the last ten years?

To close I’ll quote what AP’s Doug Ferguson said in the concluding paragraphs of his coverage of today’s final round.

There were so many possibility for great story lines going into the final round — Lewis and her remarkable recovery from back surgery that almost ended her career before she got to college; Creamer, looking poised to finally get a major to go with her marketing campaign; Alfredsson, who blew a six-shot lead at the Women’s Open in 1994, now with a chance for redemption at 43.

Instead, it was Park who stole the show by simply playing the best golf.

There were many potential story lines today but Inbee certainly did steal the show. She was a deserving US Open champ and she will be in the winner’s circle again.


Losing no-hitters

Last night you might have heard that Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and Jos̩ Arredondo pitched a no-hitter against the LA Dodgers Рand lost.

Here’s how the run scored:

Weaver (7-8) was victimized by his own fielding error with one out in the fifth inning that allowed Matt Kemp to reach first.

Kemp’s spinning squibber rolled to the right of the mound and Weaver rushed toward first base to grab the ball, but bobbled it. The ruling on whether it was a hit or an error was a close one, since Weaver would have had to field the ball cleanly — and first baseman Casey Kotchman was off the bag. Official scorer Don Hartack ruled it an error.

“I believe if he just picked it up with his bare hand and flipped it, he gets him by a good step and a half,” Hartack said. “So my thinking was, it really wasn’t a bang-bang play. I looked at the replay once and it looked like Kemp was a good seven steps away, so my thinking was Weaver had plenty of time to make the out.”

Kemp completely agreed with the scoring.

“I hit it off the end of the bat and it had a little funky English on it,” he said. “He could have made the play, but he just dropped the ball. It was an error. I mean, if they’d have given me a hit, I’d have been happy. But it was an error by far.”

Kemp stole second and continued to third on catcher Jeff Mathis’ throwing error, then scored on Blake DeWitt’s sacrifice fly.

This was the fifth time in baseball history that a team pitching the no-hitter lost. The complete list:

Allowed 0 Hits, Lost Game
Year Pitcher(s) Team
2008 J. Weaver, J. Arredondo Angels
1992 Matt Young Red Sox
1990 Andy Hawkins Yankees
1967 S. Barber, S. Miller Orioles
1964 Ken Johnson Colt .45′s

Last night’s game does not count as a no-hitter as MLB changed the rules to only count it as no-hitter when the pitcher(s) pitch at least 9 innings and complete the game.

I knew that the Orioles had once lost a no-hitter to the Tigers 2 – 1 but I just saw that the worst such loss was suffered by Andy Hawkins of the Yankees. He lost to the White Sox 4 – 0 on July 1, 1990.

Hawkins suffered the defeat when a two-out fly ball hit by Robin Ventura with the bases loaded was dropped in left field by a Yankee rookie, Jim Leyritz, allowing three runs to score. Ventura scored another run when Jesse Barfield, blinded momentarily by the sun, dropped a fly ball hit to right by Ivan Calderon.

Hawkins wasn’t certain how to separate his emotions afterward. Fans cheered him when the game was over and his teammates applauded him when he entered the clubhouse, but he never allowed himself to smile.

”I’m stunned; I really am,” he said, still standing on the field. ”This is not even close to the way I envisioned a no-hitter would be. You dream of one, but you never think it’s going to be a loss. You think of Stewart and Fernando, coming off the field in jubilation. Not this.”

The next year, Hawkins was a little more philosophical.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.


Minea Blomqvist is one shot back after two rounds at the US Open

After two rounds of play, Angela Park is leading the Women’s US Open by one shot. Park, who is of Korean heritage but born in Brazil and grew up in California, was last year’s Rookie of the Year.

One of the golfers one shot back is Minea Blomqvist. Minea had more than a few interesting things to say at a press conference yesterday.

The 23-year-old from Finland was hilarious during her interview, although there’s some Swedes that won’t be laughing when they see her comment. She was asked that Swedes say Finns talk funny, so does she think Swedes talk funny?

“I always tell a story that why Swedes are so good in the golf (is) because in golf you need empty mind, and there’s nothing going on in their heads,” she said, smiling. “So that’s why they play good.”

Blomqvist also had people cracking up when she mentioned her boyfriend, Roope Kakko, is a fellow pro golfer from Finland. But there’s a problem with his surname.

“Kakko means (feces) in Finnish,” she said. “So I’m not very happy about that if we’re going to stay together.”

If I was Minea, I’d get a new boyfriend or have the present one change his last name. Either that or to avoid a Scandinavian civil war, marry a Swede. Preferably one whose head isn’t empty or have a last name meaning shit.

Who said pro golfers aren’t colorful?


Florida Panthers waive forward Jozef Stumpel

Another hole for Florida to fill for the 2008-09 NHL season.

SUNRISE – Panthers veteran forward Jozef Stumpel was placed on unconditional waivers Wednesday.

If Stumpel, 35, isn’t claimed by another team by noon Thursday and clears waivers, the Panthers’ next move would likely be to buy out the remaining year on Stumpel’s contract.

Buying out Stumpel’s contract would mean the Panthers would be responsible for paying him two-thirds of his $2.25 million salary for the 2008-09 season.


Stumpel struggled last season, though, recording career lows in goals (seven) and assists (13) and a minus-11 rating. Slowed by a shoulder injury, Stumpel played just 52 games, his fewest in a season since 44 with the Bruins in 1994-95.

Unlike with the Jokinen trade, I think Florida made the right move here. Stumpel supplied little production for the amount the Panthers were paying out to him. I just wonder where Florida is going to come up with any real forwards from. Defensemen/wingers Wade Belak and Steve Montador don’t produce enough in my book.


Chicago Bulls take Derrick Rose with No. 1 pick in NBA draft

No surprise here.

NEW YORK – The Chicago Bulls selected Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, choosing the Memphis guard over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

Rose, a Chicago native, led the Tigers to the national championship game in his lone college season. The Bulls opted for the point guard’s playmaking ability over the scoring and rebounding of Beasley, who ranked in the top three in the nation in both categories as a freshman.

Rose is the Bulls’ first No. 1 overall selection since they grabbed Elton Brand in 1999. He’s the second straight freshman taken with the top pick, following Portland’s Greg Oden last year.


Rose should be an upgrade over Kirk Hinrich, who now could be traded, and gives the Bulls another option if they don’t re-sign guard Ben Gordon.

I have no idea about how good Rose will be or won’t be.

The Miami Heat(I’m from South Florida) made the next selection.

Miami settled for Beasley at No. 2, a pick the Heat considered trading. Beasley averaged 26.2 points, third in the nation, and topped Division I with 12.4 rebounds per game. But with questions about his size — he may be 2 inches shorter than the 6-foot-10 he’s listed at — the Bulls may not have believed he could play the 4 spot in the NBA.

Who misled(or lied to) people about Beasley’s height? Memphis or Beasley himself? I once remember a ML baseball team getting ready to give a former football player a tryout, thinking he was 25 years old. The tryout was cancelled after it was learned he was in his thirties.


Greg Norman Wedding Chris Evert

Greg Norman and Chris Evert are getting married.

Chris Evert and Greg Norman Wedding Photo Golfing legend Greg Norman(R) and former tennis star Chris Evert(L), seen here in April 2008, will marry this weekend in the Bahamas, the Australian Associated Press reported Thursday. (AFP/File/Mark Ralston)

Golfing legend Greg Norman and former tennis star Chris Evert will marry this weekend in the Bahamas, the Australian Associated Press reported Thursday.

The couple, both 53, are to wed Saturday at sunset on a beach in Paradise Island, the AAP said, citing various media reports. The pair announced their engagement last December.

Guests are believed to include former US presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush senior, American actor Chevy Chase, tennis great Martina Navratilova and singers Gwen Stefani and Kenny Loggins.

Norman, who has won two British Open titles among scores of other tournaments, and Evert, who won 18 Grand Slam titles, arrived in Paradise Island on Thursday.

Both are well past their heyday but they were indeed legendary figures in their games. Evert was America’s sweetheart for years, although overlapping careers with Billy Jean King and Martina Navratilova, who were arguably more dominant players. She was much more telegenic, however. Norman was one of the great golfers of the 1980s and early 1990s, although he’s probably best remembered for an epic collapse at the Masters.

Norman, Evert to marry in Bahamas (AFP)


Venditte, vidi, vici

The Yankees have a fascinating prospect at Single A Staten Island, Pat Venditte Jr. He’s a relief specialist. But he’s no LOOGY. He’s ambidextrous.

The pitch was nothing remarkable: Pat Venditte, Creighton University’s temporarily right-handed pitcher, threw a fastball past a Northern Iowa
batter for a called strike three. It was his next windup that evinced this young pitcher’s uniqueness and, perhaps, professional future.

As his teammates whipped the ball around the infield, Venditte smoothly, unthinkingly, removed his custom glove from his left hand and slipped it on his right. Moments later he leaned back, threw a strike left-handed to the next batter, and finished the side in order.

Venditte is believed to be the only ambidextrous pitcher in N.C.A.A.
Division I college baseball, the ultimate relief specialist. A junior, he throws left-handed to lefties and right-handed to righties, and effectively. In a home game in Omaha last Friday, he allowed only one hit in five and a third shutout innings to earn the victory against Northern Iowa.

Go to the article not just for the pictures of him pitching, but also for his custom glove. In addition to the standard finger slots, it has two thumbs.

Practically speaking, what happens when he goes up against a switch hitter? That question occurred Thursday night:

Still pitching right-handed, Venditte allowed a single by Nicholas Giarraputo. Up next was designated hitter Ralph Henriquez, and he and Venditte engaged in a routine more vaudeville than Mudville.

As Henriquez walked to the plate, Venditte, assuming Henriquez would bat left-handed, stood behind the pitching rubber with his glove on his right hand and the ball in his left. Henriquez, looking out at Venditte, then stepped across the batter’s box, determined to hit right-handed and gain a righty-lefty advantage. Seeing this, Venditte quickly switched his custom-made glove to his left hand and put the ball in his right, hoping to gain a righty-on-righty advantage.

Henriquez stepped out and began asking the home-plate umpire, Shaylor Smith, to lay out his options, then summoned his third-base coach. With the matter unresolved, Henriquez again stepped across the batter’s box in an attempt to bat left-handed. Again, Venditte switched glove and ball. The cat-and-mouse game reached full comedic gear when Henriquez again strolled across the batter’s box to hit right-handed, and Venditte responded with the old switcheroo, setting up as a righty.

The question is, if there a player’s allowed a single switch, who must commit first?

On Thursday night it concluded:

McMahon, who said Friday that he was waiting for an official ruling from higher baseball authorities on the subject of switch-pitching to switch-hitters, said that the way he understood it, “the rule dictates that the hitter establish the box and the pitcher establish the throw, and then each team can make one move, and then it’s play ball.”

“That’s the rule that we got from the rule book of minor league baseball,” he said.

Apparently that will be the rule in MLB too.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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Florida Panthers deal Olli Jokinen to Phoenix

In return for trading their team Captain and all-time leading scorer, Florida gets a petrified starfish and a bag full of potporui*two defensemen . From the Palm Beach Post-

Olli Jokinen insisted he wasn’t bitter, but his words said otherwise.

The Panthers’ captain and all-time leading scorer said Friday night he got the trade he had come to expect when General Manager Jacques Martin dealt him to Phoenix for defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and a second-round pick in this weekend’s draft.

The player Florida selected with the draft pick was-

Name: Colby Robak

Position: Defenseman

Team: Brandon (WHL)

Height/weight: 6-3/194

Birthplace: Dauphin, Manitoba

Career highlights: No. 13-ranked North American skater and seventh-rated defenseman in a draft deep with defensemen. … Was Brandon’s only 16-year-old rookie in 2006-07. … Was a member of Canada’s gold-medal entry in the World U-18 tournament in April.

Quote: “He (has) lots of good tools. He’s a big kid, gets around the ice real well. All his basic skills are strong. He played real well for us.” – Canada U-18 coach Pat Quinn

Another defensemen. I haven’t a clue about how good Robak will be. All I know is it will be sometime before Panther fans know themselves.

How about the defensemen Florida acquired.

Ballard, 25, clearly was the key to the deal. Martin said the 5-foot-11, 208-pounder fills what he had identified as the team’s No. 1 off-season need, a puck-moving defenseman. He was taken 11th overall by Buffalo in 2002.

“He’s a real competitor, a real gritty player,” Martin said. “He’s in your face. He’s physical. He’s a great skater, moves the puck. He’s just a solid all-around defenseman.”

Darren Pang, the Coyotes’ TV analyst and former NHL player, gave Ballard a glowing review.

“An extremely competitive player who basically puts his heart on his sleeve every time he steps on the ice,” Pang said. “He’s a model for great skating (and) a wonderful character guy. They got a wonderful hockey play in Keith Ballard.”

Boynton, 29, was a first-round pick by Boston in 1999 who plays with an edge. He is also expected to earn a spot in the Panthers’ top four.

Like Robak, I know little about these players. Both were in the western conference, and I seldom watch games played by teams(also rans) like Phoenix unless they are playing Florida.

Florida has traded their best scoring threat for two players who seldom put pucks in the net or even assist on goals. These better be two great defensemen to fill the scoring void the Panthers have now.

Note- Florida has a young and upcoming player named Shawn Matthias. Florida GM Jacques Martin must be hoping for Matthias to fill the gap Olli’s departure creates. For I wouldn’t be counting on veterans like McLean, Dvorak, or Zednik to pick up the slack. They’ve proven what they can do in the NHL, which is far less than Jokinen.

BTW I like Shawn Matthias, but he is as of yet, untested but for a few games in the NHL.

What’s the reason given for trading Jokinen?

Martin downplayed talk of a rift between himself and Jokinen and said there was nothing personal involved in the trade.

“I enjoyed working with Olli. He’s an excellent player,” he said. “I look at improving our hockey club and never looked at things from a personal standpoint. I wouldn’t have made the trade if I didn’t feel it was good for the organization.”

Asked about the rumored rift, Jokinen replied, “We’re definitely not going out to dinner. It’s a different relationship than I had with Mike.”

Mike is Mike Keenan, former Panther head coach and Martin’s predecessor as Panther GM. Keenan, who is now with Calgary, was the person mostly responsible for the Roberto Luongo trade which was a fiasco for Florida. My gut feeling is the Jokinen trade we be regarded similarly in a short time.

BTW Florida acquired Luongo and Jokinen in the same trade with the NY Islanders eight years ago. Only seems appropriate Florida return the favor by letting these two key players get stolen back?

Back to why Florida traded Jokinen.

Martin said the bottom line to the deal was he addressed his team’s shortcomings on defense, which were apparent last season when the Panthers led the league in shots against for the second time in three seasons.

“Last year, I indicated that I would improve our goaltending and we have no regrets there,” he said. “We acquired a goaltender (Tomas Vokoun) who gives us a chance to win every night.

Florida has no lack of defensemen, including a very good to excellent one in Jay Bouwmeester. After that you have Bryan Allen, Karlis Skrastins, Cory Murphy, Mike Van Ryn, Magnus Johansson, Wade Belak, Steve Montador, Branislev Mezei, Jassen Cullimore and a couple of other warm bodies.

I’m counting Belak and Montador as defensemen. They are also forwards, and Martin likes to play them there. Truth is, both players don’t score enough to be even 3rd or 4th liners in my book. Belak is there to hit and intimidate players, which he’s fairly good at, however he puts pucks in the net once every four or five years.

Florida had injury problems at defensemen last year, Van Ryn, Mezei, and Murphy missing large chunks of the season. Set aside Montador and Belak, I don’t see Florida hurting if Bouwmeester, Allen, Murphy, Van Ryn, and Skrastins stay healthy. What’s the big need for Ballard and Boynton?

Martin seems to like acquiring defensemen. Allen came in the Luongo trade, Cullimore was signed or traded for during last off season,Johansson was acquired during last season as was Skrastins and Belak. Didn’t these players shore up Florida? If they didn’t, what does that tell us about Martin’s ability to evaluate players. Will he any better with Boynton and Ballard.

Palm Beach Post hockey writer Brian Biggane has something interesting to say at his Panther blog.

One league executive, who team was rumored to be among those pursuing Jokinen, called the former Panthers center “a dog” late Friday night and said any talk of sincere interest on the part of his team was “a plant.”

Panther fans today are bemoaning Jokinen’s departure, many insisting they won’t renew their season tickets as a result. But the league view on Jokinen is he’s a player who lost his motivation after Mike Keenan headed out of South Florida and has been on a steady decline ever since.

I liked Jokinen and still do, as a person. He was always helpful with the media. But as the old saying goes, if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem. It’s no coincidence the Panthers never made the playoffs during his seven years in their uniform.

We read and heard so much about Sidney Crosby and his leadership a few weeks back. Jokinen was not a good leader. First guy off the ice almost every practice. Very involved with his own issues. A negative influence for Nathan Horton who, with his significant role on the team, pulled down everyone else.

“This isn’t a guy you want on your team,” the league exec added.

Biggane relates Jokinen’s habits only after Florida deals him. Why wouldn’t a reporter paid to cover a sports team not relate the truth about a key player? So that key player keeps talking to the reporter, but isn’t the reporter supposed to report the whole news?

I’m not a big Brian Biggane fan, so I’d take his Jokinen revelation with a large lump of salt. The annonymous NHL executive doesn’t help persuade me of what Biggane is writing either. Couldn’t the reporter find at least one person in the NHL willing to go on the record about how Olli really is?

Bottom line- I think the Florida Panthers have made another bad trade. ESPN’s Scott Burnside once called Florida the most dysfunctional franchise in the NHL. I have a hard time disagreeing with Scott, and I’m a big Panther fan.

*- I borrowed this wisecrack from baseball stat man, Bill James. He used it a long time ago to describe some MLB trade.


Judge: Duke Football Stinks

Louisville sued Duke for pulling out of a four game football contract after only one game and demanded $450,000 in damages. Duke claimed that, because their team is so bad (13-90 since 1999) any Division I team would meet the contract’s “team of similar stature” clause.

Judge Phillip J. Shepherd of the Franklin County (Ky.) Circuit Court agreed, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“At oral argument, Duke [with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty] persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower,” Shepherd wrote in a summary judgment issued Thursday, according to the paper. “Duke’s argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville.”

You almost hate to win with that kind of argument.


Johnny Miller apologizes in NBC statement for comments on Mediate

This because of comments Miller made in last Sunday’s golf broadcast.

NEW YORK — NBC Sports golf analyst Johnny Miller apologized for his description of U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate , saying the comments had “absolutely nothing to do with his ethnicity.”

Mediate, a 45-year-old Pennsylvanian of Italian heritage, held a one-stroke lead over Tiger Woods during the fourth round Sunday. Miller said Mediate “looks like the guy who cleans Tiger’s swimming pool.” He also said, “Guys with the name ‘Rocco’ don’t get on the trophy, do they?”

“I apologize to anyone who was offended by my remarks,” Miller said in a statement Friday through NBC. “My intention was to convey my affection and admiration for Rocco’s everyman qualities and had absolutely nothing to do with his ethnicity. I chose my words poorly and in the future will be more careful.”

Miller be more careful? Like when he claimed to win the City Championship of San Francisco in a book he authored. Something he has never done. Miller has had a long history of making idiot comments during the broadcasts he works. The trouble is, the man is a liar too.

The apology by Miller is bogus. He didn’t feel Mediate’s name belongs on a trophy his name is on, pure and simple. Miller also could have apologized on the air Monday, but didn’t. A written statement of apology five days later is as bogus as most of the facts in the book ‘I call the shots’. I never knew Tiger Woods lost a playoff to Ed Fiori. Neither does Ed Fiori, the PGA Tour, and any golf writer/announcer around with the exception of Miller.

Johnny Miller is a disgrace to golf and television announcing. If Miller had any class he’d never work in the TV booth ever again.


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