Sports Outside the Beltway

Kenny Perry wins the John Deere, skips the British Open

The 47-year-old PGA Tour veteran won for the third time this year. Beating two players in a playoff. Perry now stands #2 on the 2008 money list, only behind Tiger Woods.

Much has been made about Perry deciding to first skip US Open, and now the British Open. I’m of the opinion that the golf media really needs a life. Seldom has so much been written about so little. Since when has a ordinary player’s tournament scheduling been newsworthy? Tiger Woods is one thing, but I’ve been around long enough to have watched Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and others and don’t recall their decisions to play or not play a tournament dissected.

In Perry’s defense, I’ll point out the following

*- Lee Trevino chose to skip the Masters three times in spite of him being eligible to play. It may be 4, but in 1977 Trevino had back problems. That may account for him missing the tournament.

*- 1967 PGA Champion Don January refused to play the 1970 US Open at Hazeltine because of his dislike for the course.

*- Twelve time tournament winner and 1984 Vardon Trophy winner Calvin Peete never played the British Open.

*- Here’s the best comparasion to Perry. In 1969 Dave Hill, who won 13 times on tour, skipped that year’s British Open. Hill won 3 times in 1969, finished 2nd on the money list that year, was competing for a Ryder Cup spot(like Perry, and Hill made it as Kenny is likely to do), and took home the Vardon Trophy that year.

In fact Hill only played once at the British Open. If I look some more, I’m sure to find players of like ability to Perry who skipped the British Open.

This non-story has gotten to the point where non-golf writers are taking shots at Perry. Take for instance Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN who writes-

“I was going to have to miss Milwaukee [the U.S. Bank Championship], which is a tournament I’ve won,” Perry told a small gathering of reporters earlier in the week at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. “I’ve had eight top-10 finishes there.”

Is that right? Eight top-10 finishes in Milwaukee. Wow. Well, then I can certainly understand why you’d stiff the world’s oldest major, and a Birkdale course where Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller won championships. And I’m just spitballing here, but maybe you’ve had those eight top-10s because, you know, the world’s best players ARE AT THE BRITISH OPEN!

Let me fire a cannonball back at the careless and unoriginal Mr. Wojciechowski. How many times have the Milwaukee and British Opens been played the same week since Kenny Perry turned pro, not counting this year?

Once, in 2007. A simple check of would have shown this. So 7 of Perry’s 8 top 10s at Milwaukee didn’t come alongside the British Open.

If you’re going to play the same broken record Gene Wojciechowski, get your facts straight. Otherwise you look like a fool. Better yet, don’t write about golf at all.


Former MLB Pitcher Chuck Stobbs dead at age 79

The left handed Stobbs came to the Major Leagues for the first time in 1947 and stayed around till 1961. He won over 100 games, but with a losing record. Mostly because he played most of his career with one of the worst teams(The Senators) in the American League. His one claim to fame or infamy, was giving up a 565 homerun to Mickey Mantle. My memories of Stobbs comes from my playing past seasons of Strat-O-Matic baseball. His luck in most of the games I recreated were no better than Stobbs was in real-life. RIP.


Former PGA Tour player Mike Souchak dead at 81

Mike Souchak won 15 tour events in a career that lasted over a decade. He was an accomplished college football player and shot the lowest score ever in PGA history for 72 holes at the 1955 Texas Open. That record stood for over four decades. RIP.

DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—Former PGA Tour professional and Duke Sports Hall of Fame member Mike Souchak has died.

The school said the 81-year-old died Thursday in Belleair, Fla.

Souchak won 15 events on the PGA Tour from 1955-66 and had 11 top-10 finishes in major championships. He finished third at the U.S. Open in 1959 and 1960, and played on the winning U.S. Ryder Cup teams in ‘59 and ‘61.

He set a tour record for four-round low score at the 1955 Texas Open, opening with a 60 and finishing a 257. That record stood until Mark Calcavecchia’s 256 at the 2001 Phoenix Open.

At Duke, Souchak lettered three seasons in football and four in golf, helping the Blue Devils win two Southern Conference golf titles.


Steelers for sale

Not my usual beat but I noticed that Pittsburgh’s Rooneys Quietly Shop the Steelers

Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, the eldest of the brothers, wants to consolidate his control through a 10-year plan to buy out most of their shares, but a well-funded prospective buyer has emerged after some of Mr. Rooney’s brothers and their children raised questions about his offer.

Stanley Druckenmiller, billionaire chairman of Pittsburgh’s Duquesne Capital Management, has expressed interest in acquiring the Steelers, people briefed on the negotiations said.

The family disagreement that could lead to the sale is described:

In a statement Monday, the Steelers said Mr. Rooney “wants to stay in the football business while some of his four brothers plan to get out of the [National Football League] and focus their business efforts on their racetracks and other interests.” The statement said that Mr. Rooney and his son, Steelers President Art Rooney II, are arranging a financing plan to buy the brothers’ shares in the team in order to continue substantial ownership of the franchise by the Rooneys.

“I will do everything possible to work out a solution to ensure my father’s legacy of keeping the Steelers in the Rooney family and in Pittsburgh for at least another 75 years,” Dan Rooney said in the statement.

Follow the link to a timeline of the Steelers franchise history as well as the valuations of recently sold sports franchises.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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The King of Pick-offs

Some off-day reading for y’all -

Inspired by a conversation with my father-in-law about Andy Pettitte, I decided to try to discover who has the best pick-off move in history (via stats). Bear in mind though, pick-offs have only been recorded since 1956, so we don’t know about some of the great pitchers before that time (e.g. Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, etc.).

Going by total career pick-offs, Andy Pettitte ranks second to Steve Carlton. No surprise that southpaws top the list. Both Pettitte and Carlton are quality lefties, and both had/have pretty lengthy careers. The main reason Carlton bests Pettitte is longevity: he threw roughly twice as many innings, and hence has about twice as many pick-offs. That’s not really fair to Pettitte, who has a better pick-off-per-inning rate than Carlton.

Pettitte picked off a runner every 31 innings. Carlton every 36 innings. The ‘King of Pick-offs’, though, might just be Darold Knowles, who nailed a base runner every 24 innings. He isn’t higher on the list because he threw just 1092 innings, primarily as a reliever for nine different teams during the 60′s and 70′s.

That’s the not the conclusion though, because Carlton and Knowles pitched in more pitcher-friendly eras (meaning they generally had less base runners, hence less pick off opportunities). The real stat we need to find is pick-offs-per-base runner. We find this by adding hits and walks, subtracting home runs, and dividing by pick-offs. I’m not going to account for hit-batters and double plays as they roughly cancel each other out.

Carlton picked off one of every 42 base runners.

Pettitte: one of every 39 base runners.

Knowles: one of every 32 base runners.

Again, Knowles is the best, but we’re not quite done.

Who was the best at keeping runners from stealing – who put the most fear into base runners?

We can find this by calculating total base runners, then dividing by attempted steals.

Carlton: one of every 11 base runners attempted to steal.

Pettitte: one of every 15 base runners attempted to steal.

Knowles: one of every 28 base runners attempted to steal.

So now we can make the educated assumption that Darold Knowles is one of, if not the best pick off artist of the last 50 years.


Tyson Gay Out of Olympic 200

America’s best sprinter will not run the 200 meters in the Beijing Olympics, another casualty of our stupid selection policy.

Tyson Gay falls during the first quarterfinal heat of the men\'s 200 meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, July 5, 2008. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)Tyson Gay accelerated through the first curve. Then, he started flying. Not in the figurative sense, but in an all-too-real way — a shocking sprawl to the ground that cost America’s best sprinter an Olympic spot in the 200 meters and made him look like less than a sure thing, health-wise at least, with the Beijing Games five weeks away.

Had this been gymnastics, or a number of other sports, an injury at trials wouldn’t have ended Gay’s chance to make the Olympics in that specific event. But USA Track and Field plays it straight — top three finishers at trials make the Olympics, no exceptions.

It’s a black-and-white policy that most athletes accept, though it could end up costing the American team as much as Gay in Beijing. Gay is the defending world champion in the 100 and 200 meters.

“I don’t know any other way to do it, but it’s tough,” said Wallace Spearmon, now the favorite in Sunday’s finals. “Either you’re ready on this day or not. You can be the best athlete coming into it, and you could be sitting at home watching it from the house.”

How about a system that combines multiple events? Say, the Olympic Trials, the World Championships, and one or two other major competitions? That way, a poorly timed fall, injury, or illness would be less likely to cost an individual an opportunity for which they’ve spent a lifetime training. And Team USA would be represented by the best athletes.


Former San Diego Chargers safety Terrence Kiel dead at 27

He died in a auto accident late last night. If not for Kiel’s arrest for shipping cough medicine two years ago, I would most likely not even remember him. RIP.

SAN DIEGO – Former Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was killed after he was thrown from a Chevy sedan he was driving, police said Saturday.

Kiel, 27, was driving alone after leaving a party at about 10:15 Friday night when he hit a wall in San Diego’s upscale Scripps Ranch neighborhood and was thrown from the car, police Sgt. Alan Hayward said.


Venus Williams wins her 5th Wimbledon title

She defeated her sister Serena for her seventh career grand slam title.

WIMBLEDON, England – Venus Williams beat sister Serena 7-5, 6-4 Saturday for her fifth Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam championship.

This was Venus’ first victory over her younger sibling in a Grand Slam final since the 2001 U.S. Open, and it evened their career record at 8-8.

“I can’t believe that it’s five,” Venus said. “But when you’re in the final against Serena Williams, five seems too far away. … She played so awesome, it was really a task to beat her.”

Venus came from 3-1 down in the first set to turn around the match, breaking Serena four times while dropping serve twice in a final that produced breathtaking tennis despite swirling wind.

This was more than a matchup between siblings; it was a contest between two of the hardest-hitting, most athletic players in the world at the top of their game.

Venus broke to finish the match in 1 hour, 51 minutes, with Serena hitting a backhand wide on the second match point. The sisters embraced at the net, and Venus kept her celebrations in check as she twirled and waved to the Centre Court crowd.

Venus accepted the winner’s trophy — a sterling silver salver aptly named the Venus Rosewater dish — from the Duke of Kent.

I rarely watch tennis, but tuned in for most of today’s final. It was a good match, but probably won’t lead to my watching the men’s final tomorrow. See the wife and I go to mass on Sunday morning, therefore I won’t be home for most of the broadcast.

The last time I watched a men’s final in tennis was one of the Borg-McEnroe battles of the late 70′s or early 80′s.


Hall of Fame No Sure Bet

Rick Gosselin notes that we throw around the phrase “future Hall of Famer” way too easily when talking about NFL greats.

Dallas Morning News Columnist Goose GosselinI’m hearing “first-ballot Hall of Famer” plenty these days with the retirements of Brett Favre, Jonathan Ogden, Michael Strahan and Warren Sapp. I’m hearing “future Hall of Famer” with the retirements of Steve McNair and Bryant Young. The Class of 2013 could be pumped up even further if Junior Seau decides he’s through.

The assumption is that the latest is always the greatest, so let’s rush all these guys into Canton.

 AP  	 Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan had strong final seasons in 2007.In Favre’s case, I’ll buy it. He retired as the game’s all-time leading passer with more completions, yards and touchdowns than any other quarterback in NFL history. Five years from now when he becomes eligible for Canton, Favre figures to still be atop all the passing lists.

Those are the true first-ballot guys: Favre, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith – players who pushed the bar so high it would take years for anyone to catch them statistically.

All other “first-ballot” candidates are matters of opinion, which makes them all subject to debate.

Strahan retired after 15 seasons with 141½ sacks. First ballot? Ask Chris Doleman his definition of a first-ballot Hall of Fame pass rusher. His statistics are better than Strahan’s across the board, but he can’t even get into the room for discussion by the Hall of Fame selection committee. Here’s a comparison:

Player Seasons Games Sacks FF FR Int
Doleman 15 232 150½ 43 23 8
Strahan 15 216 141½ 23 14 4
(FF-Forced fumbles; FR-Fumble recoveries, INT-Interceptions)

The natural argument would be that Strahan played the strong side, where a player generally has to fight through more traffic to get to the quarterback than a weakside pass rusher like Doleman.  But that argument hasn’t helped Kevin Greene. He finished his career with 160 sacks in 228 career games at his strongside linebacker spot and also can’t get into the room for discussion.  Both Doleman and Greene enter their fifth year of eligibility in 2009. Both Doleman and Greene deserve discussion before Strahan. Derrick Thomas, Richard Dent and Charles Haley also belong in the queue ahead of Strahan.

Warren Sapp was an all-decade tackle for the 1990s. So was Bryant Young. But so was Cortez Kennedy. Young went to five Pro Bowls, Sapp eight and Kennedy eight. Sapp was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999. So was Kennedy in 1992. Yet Kennedy has never been a finalist in his four years of eligibility.

McNair took a team to the Super Bowl and was an NFL MVP. Ken Anderson also took a team to the Super Bowl and was an NFL MVP. Anderson went to twice as many Pro Bowls (four) than McNair (two). He also threw for more yards (32,838) and more touchdowns (197) than McNair (31,304 and 174). Anderson has been a finalist twice and been rejected twice.

Jonathan Ogden went to 11 Pro Bowls. So did guard Randall McDaniel, who was bounced in his first trip to the finals last February.

Junior Seau went to 12 Pro Bowls in his 18 NFL seasons. Les Richter played nine NFL seasons (1954-62) as a linebacker and went to eight Pro Bowls. He was once traded for 11 players. Yet he’s never been discussed by the Hall of Fame selection committee. Maxie Baughan went to nine Pro Bowls in the 1960s. He also has never been discussed.

The latest doesn’t always translate into the greatest. Labeling any player a “future Hall of Famer” or “first-ballot Hall of Famer” is a disservice to those who have already earned their way into Canton with those designations.

He’s right, of course.  Some truly great players are not in the Hall and some of today’s perennial Pro Bowlers will surely fall short.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is by far the most exclusive of those representing the major sports.  There are some truly mediocre players in Cooperstown.  Basketball’s hall is, frankly, a joke, seeking to include everyone regardless of what level of competition they played at, lumping NBA greats in with women’s hoopstars and international stars.   Golf’s hall is simply matter of “qualifying” by winning the requisite number of tournaments and, again, it includes those who excel on the women’s tour.

Canton has gone, in my view, to the opposite extreme.   A football team has 22 starters, not counting special teams, compared to nine in baseball and five in basketball.  Yet, they let in a maximum of six modern era players each year.  Baseball lets in anyone getting votes from 75 percent of the writers, allowing large classes if several greats retire in short order.  Class sizes vary from year-to-year but typically three make it and as many as seven have in a single year.  Again, in a sport with far fewer players.


I don’t like Sundays

The Orioles have an awful record on Sundays.

With Sunday’s come from ahead loss, the O’s have now dropped 12 straight Sunday games.

I don’t know if it will work, but the team is instituting a “We win, you win” promotion. If the Orioles win this coming Sunday against Texas, fans will be offered limited free tickets to a future game:

Here’s the deal: If the Orioles win, all fans who attend the game get a complimentary ticket in the same seating category to any future non-prime game (there would be 33 of those during the rest of the schedule). The offer is good for paid tickets only to the July 6 game. If the O’s win, the ticket office will stay open after the game so that fans can get their free tickets. Redemption can be made through Aug. 31.

A contributing factor to the Orioles woeful Sunday performance this year, is their performance during day games. When the sun is shining the O’s have the second worst offense with a .681 OPS, scoring 100 runs in 26 games. That’s less than 4 runs per game. (Only Cleveland is worse with a .650 OPS and 79 runs scored in 24 games.)

The culprits are (regulars with sub .700 OPS) Jay Payton .637, Kevin Millar .479, Adam Jones .554, Ramon Hernandez .495, Melvin Mora .474 plus assorted shortstops.

The pitching overall is fine with a 4.02 ERA in the daytime so far. The one exception is George Sherrill who is carrying a worrisome 9.39 ERA and has a WHIP of over 2 during the day.

What’s going on? Could it be that these players need some sort of vision correction?

(The Orioles offensive output in games in a domed stadium isn’t much better. In 11 games they’ve got a .696 OPS indoors and are scoring a little more than 3 runs a game. That would argue that the problem isn’t the sun.)

Maybe the Orioles haven’t solved their daytime problem, but they did come up with a good promotion out of it.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.

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