Sports Outside the Beltway

Royal Birkdale and Taiwanese golfers or Yani Tseng and Mr. Lu

Yani Tseng from Taiwan leads the Women’s British at Royal Birkdale by four shots with 36 holes to play. Should she win, Tseng would already have amassed three of the four major championships in Women’s professional golf.Yani Tseng

I won’t be conceding the tournament to Tseng quite. Just two years ago, Lorena Ochoa was on a roll and was leading the LPGA Championship by one shot after 36 holes. One golf scribe at the time was all but ready to crown Ochoa at that point. Ochoa ultimately finished third, to Yani Tseng.

Royal Birkdale is an interesting place for Tseng to be going for her third major. Thirty-nine years ago, or 1971 to be precise, the Open Championship was played at Birkdale. It was won by Lee Trevino. The golfer who finished second by one shot that week was Lu Liang Huan. Lu, who is still alive today at age 75, is from Taiwan just like Yani Tseng.

Lu, or as Open Championship fans in 1971 nicknamed him Mr. Lu, was an obscure golfer to even knowledgeable golf people at the time. His three career wins were all in Asia before the 1971 Open Championship.

Mr. Lu’s obscurity didn’t prevent him from being a fan favorite that week in 1971. He didn’t speak much English, but through tips of his straw cap and smiles to the gallery, he had many people in England and through television cheering for him that week.

A week after the 1971 Open Championship, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club issued an invitation to Mr. Lu. It said- “come back to this country as often as you like and we hope you’ll bring more fine golfers from the Far East.”

Many fine golfers have come to the United Kingdom and the United States since then. Unfortunately, the attitude of people has regressed since then. Asian golfers, even Asian American golfers, are seen as a threat by the media and or fans. No one was bothered by Mr. Lu’s poor English in 1971, so I have trouble understanding the attitude of some people today. Trevino and Mr. Lu

I wasn’t following pro golf in 1971. At the time I was ten-years-old and more interested in New York Mets baseball. What I learned about the 1971 Open Championship is through media accounts at the time. Even these are hard to find.

What I do know about that Open Championship is-

1 Trevino and Mr. Lu were paired together for the last 18 holes.
2 Lee Trevino made double bogey at 17
3 Mr. Lu and Trevino both made closing birdies on 18
4 As he played 18, an errant golf shot of Mr. Lu’s struck a person in the gallery injuring the woman. After the Open Championship, Mr. Lu paid for the woman and her husband to visit Taiwan.

Mr. Lu never again seriously contended for a Major Championship. He did however win the French Open the following week and in 1972 partnered with Hsieh Min-Nan to win the World Cup. When his professional career was over, Mr. Lu had at least twenty professional wins to his credit but he is probably still best remembered for his runner-up finish at the 1971 Open Championship.

So far as I know, Mr. Lu is still alive today at age seventy-four.


Bucky Showalter named new Manager of the Baltimore Orioles

He replaces Interim Manager Juan Samuel. From ESPN-

Buck Showalter was hired to manage the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, his latest rebuilding project in a major league career full of them.

Showalter’s first game will be Tuesday night at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels.

Baltimore had the worst record in the majors at 31-70 going into Thursday night against the Kansas City Royals and is headed toward its 13th straight losing season. The Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley on June 4 and replaced him on an interim basis with Juan Samuel.

“Buck Showalter’s proven track record makes him the right choice for manager of the Orioles,” president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said in a statement. “We believe Buck’s extensive experience and expertise will be a major benefit to us as we look towards a more successful future.”

Samuel will return to his job as the team’s third-base coach. Baltimore went 16-31 with him in charge.

While I’ve always liked Showalter since his days as Skipper of the Fort Lauderdale Yankees, it will take a lot more than a good manager to reverse Baltimore’s fortunes.


Stephen Strasburg scratched from start due to inflamed shoulder

He has struck out 75 batters in 54 plus innings since being put in the Washington National rotation last May. From ESPN-

Rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg was diagnosed with inflammation in his pitching shoulder after being scratched from his scheduled start for the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night because he had problems warming up his prized and powerful right arm.Stephen Strasburg

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Strasburg had “stiffness and discomfort” in his right shoulder, but an MRI and X-ray show no structural damage.

“Given a couple days’ rest and anti-inflammatories, he should be better,” Rizzo said.

The Nationals did not make Strasburg available for comment, saying he went for tests immediately after he encountered trouble. He was supposed to start Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves; instead, Miguel Batista was summoned on short notice and earned the win with five shutout innings in Washington’s 3-0 victory.

Rizzo said Strasburg is day to day and he’s not certain when the righty will pitch next.

“We’re still not sure where he’s at,” the GM said.

Earlier, Rizzo said Strasburg did not have “shooting pains or anything like that in his shoulder or elbow.”

In nine starts for Washington, Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 15 walks in 54 1/3 innings. He has won his past three starts.

After Strasburg’s first MLB start, I commented-

I expect Strasburg to come up with a lame arm by the time he is 25.

He’s 21 and his arm isn’t mature.

Washington is a terrible club and seeking solutions and will overuse Strasburg

Strasburg’s first outing was excellent, so the club is not likely to turn back to a more patient course with this pitcher.

Baseball history has a long list of pitchers who came out gangbusters Dwight Gooden, Steve Busby, Wally Bunker, Mark Fidryich, and more but faded rapidly usually due to arm woes. If I recall correctly, Bill James said the only HOF pitcher to have impact as a rookie was Tom Seaver.

I stick by what I said. Earl Weaver said the best place for a young pitcher is long relief.


Former Oakland Raider Safety Jack Tatum dead at 61

He was three-time Pro Bowler, but Tatum may be best known for his hit to Darryl Stingley that caused the Wide Receiver’s spine to sever between the 4th and 5th vertebrae. As hard as I could try, I couldn’t find a video of the play. I seem to recall it was a hard but not illegal hit. RIP Jack Tatum.

Former Oakland Raiders and Ohio State defensive back Jack Tatum Tatum died of a heart attack Tuesday in an Oakland hospital.

Tatum, a three-time Pro Bowler, was 61.Jack Tatum-Darryl Stingley

In a statement, the Raiders said, “Jack was a true Raider champion and a true Raider warrior. … Jack was the standard bearer and an inspiration for the position of safety throughout college and professional football.”

Known as “The Assassin” during his career, Tatum was renowned as one of the most feared hitters in the game. The footage of Tatum knocking the helmet off of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sammy White in Super Bowl XI is one of the marquee images in the history of the game.

But Tatum’s most infamous hit came during a preseason game.

In Oakland on Aug. 12, 1978, New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley ran head-on into Tatum on a crossing pattern. The blow severed Stingley’s fourth and fifth vertebrae and left the receiver paralyzed. Eventually, Stingley regained limited movement in his right arm and was able to operate his electric wheelchair on his own, but Stingley died from the after-effects of Tatum’s hit on April 26, 2007 at the age of 55.

Chuck Fairbanks, the Patriots’ coach at the time of the collision, said he couldn’t find anything illegal or dirty about the hit.

“I saw replays many, many times, and many times Jack Tatum was criticized,” Fairbanks said at the time of Stingley’s death. “But there wasn’t anything at the time that was illegal about that play. I do think probably that play was a forerunner for some of the changes in rules that exist today that are more protective of receivers, especially if there is head-to-head-type contact. I think that probably pre-empted some of the things that happened today.”

Tatum and Stingley never met after the hit.

Tatum was not penalized on the play and the NFL took no disciplinary action, but it did tighten its rules on violent hits.

Despite Tatum’s failure to show remorse, former Ohio State teammate John Hicks said Tatum was haunted by the play.

“It was tough on him, too,” Hicks said. “He wasn’t the same person after that. For years he was almost a recluse.”

Tatum had said he tried to visit Stingley at an Oakland hospital shortly after the collision but was turned away by Stingley’s family members.

“It’s not so much that Darryl doesn’t want to, but it’s the people around him,” Tatum told the Oakland Tribune in 2004. “So we haven’t been able to get through that. Every time we plan something, it gets messed up. Getting to him or him getting back to me, it never happens.”

Part of the alienation came after Tatum wrote the 1980 book, “They Call Me Assassin,” in which he was unapologetic for his headhunting ways.

Tatum also wrote books titled “They Still Call Me Assassin: Here We Go Again” in 1989 and “Final Confessions of an NFL Assassin” in 1996.

In the latter he wrote, “I was paid to hit, the harder the better. And I hit, and I knocked people down and knocked people out. … I understand why Darryl is considered the victim. But I’ll never understand why some people look at me as the villain.”

After starring for Ohio State under coach Woody Hayes, Tatum was drafted in the first round by Oakland in 1971. In nine seasons with the Raiders, Tatum started 106 of 120 games with 30 interceptions and helped Oakland win the 1976 Super Bowl. He played his final season with the Houston Oilers in 1980.


Tampa Bay Ray Matt Garza no-hits Detroit

It was the first in franchise history. From AP-

The Tampa Bay Rays finally wound up on the right side of a memorable pitching performance.Garza

Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in franchise history and the fifth in the major leagues this season, beating the Detroit Tigers 5-0 Monday night.

“We needed one. I don’t care who it came from. We just needed one for our own confidence,” Garza said, mindful that the Rays have been held hitless four times in their 13-season history — three times in the past year. “The guys are just as excited as I am. It’s fun.”

The 26-year-old right-hander faced the minimum 27 batters in his 106th career start, allowing only a second-inning walk to Brennan Boesch, for a team that’s often been on the wrong end of pitching gems lately.

Two of the no-hitters tossed against the Rays since July 2009 were perfect games. They didn’t manage a hit Monday off starter Max Scherzer until Matt Joyce’s sixth-inning grand slam.

There has been a high amount of no-hitters this year, but not unheard of. Contrary to what the AP writer of the article thinks, this is not the year of the pitcher. That belongs to 1968 when one fifth of the games played that year were shutouts and only one AL batter(Carl Yaztremski) batted over .300. The AL league batting average was .230. 2010 only matches up to 1968 in one thing, no-hitters thrown(5).


Dallas Cowboys NFL’s Winningest Team

The Dallas Cowboys have the best winning percentage of any team in NFL history, Gerry Fraley reports for DMN.

After 50 years of trying, the Cowboys will enter the season for the first time with the highest all-time winning percentage in pro football history. By winning their final three regular-season games last year, the Cowboys pushed into the playoffs and also boosted their winning percentage to .580 and passed Miami, at .579.

That sets the bar at a high level for the Cowboys. To live up to past standards, all this season’s club has to do is stay home for what would be its ninth Super Bowl appearance after finishing the regular season with the league’s top record.

It’s the story-line for this season.

“I can’t think of a greater source of motivation for this year’s team than to remind them of the legacy of this franchise,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “The great players who have come before them and the high standard of performance that our fans are accustomed to, too.”

The Cowboys are only the fifth franchise since 1963 to have the distinction of highest winning percentage. The others are Cleveland, which reigned from 1963 through ’76, the Los Angeles-Oakland Raiders from 1977-’96, Miami from 1997-98 and 2000-09 and Jacksonville in 1999.

Jacksonville debuted as an expansion team in 1995 and reached the playoffs in each of the next four seasons. The records for Miami and Oakland include their pre-merger seasons in the AFL. The same holds for Cleveland, which dominated the All America Football Conference before joining the NFL in 1950.

“It’s particularly meaningful for the organization to have that mark as we enter into a year where we will celebrate 50 seasons of Dallas Cowboys football,” Jones said. “It is a reflection of a great commitment and a high level of excellence from a large group of people over the course of five decades. We all know that winning is the name of the game.”

When Jones took control of the franchise after Bum Bright’s disastrous run, the Cowboys ranked fourth in all-time winning percentage at .607. They rank 10th in the league for winning percentage (.548) during the Jones era, but author Michael MacCambridge credits him and former general manager Tex Schramm for putting the franchise into this lofty position.

“Almost every other team has had extended periods of poor performance – down periods if you will,” said MacCambridge, whose America’s Game has received glowing reviews for its chronicling of the NFL’s rise to prominence. “The Cowboys have never been down for very long.

It’s a pretty impressive accomplishment, especially considering how many down years the team has had in my memory.   Indeed, you’d think that the glory years of the 1970s and 1980s, when the team was going deep into the playoffs every year, would have had the team with a better winning percentage.   But the Raiders, who compiled great numbers beating up teams in an inferior league — whereas the Cowboys were an expansion team in the NFL in the days when that meant starting with other teams’ dregs — were also on a roll.

Of course, Green Bay has far more championships, Chicago has far more wins, and Pittsburgh has one more Super Bowl.   But those are much older franchises.


Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies At 80

Steinbrenner_w_trophyOn the morning of the All-Star Game baseball fans woke up to the news that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had died in Florida:

George Steinbrenner, who bought a declining Yankees team in 1973, promised to stay out of its daily affairs and then, in an often tumultuous reign, placed his formidable stamp on 7 World Series championship teams, 11 pennant winners and a sporting world powerhouse valued at perhaps $1.6 billion, died Tuesday morning. He was 80 and lived in Tampa, Fla.

“He was an incredible and charitable man,” the family said in a statement.

“He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again.”

Steinbrenner’s death came nine months after the Yankees won their first World Series title since 2000, clinching their six-game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at his new Yankee Stadium.

Steinbrenner had been in failing health for the past several years and had rarely appeared in public. He attended the opening game at the new stadium in April 2009, sitting in his suite with his wife, Joan. When he was introduced and received an ovation, his shoulders shook and he cried.

He next appeared at the Yankees’ new home for the first two games of the World Series, then made his final appearance at the 2010 home opener, when Manager Joe Girardi and shortstop Derek Jeter, the team captain, came to his suite to present him with his 2009 World Series championship ring.


Steinbrenner was the central figure in a syndicate that bought the Yankees from CBS for $10 million. When he arrived in New York on Jan. 3, 1973, he said he would not “be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all.” Having made his money as head of the Cleveland-based American Shipbuilding Company, he declared, “I’ll stick to building ships.”

But four months later, Michael Burke, who had been running the Yankees for CBS and had stayed on to help manage the franchise, departed after clashing with Steinbrenner. John McMullen, a minority owner in the syndicate, soon remarked that “nothing is as limited as being a limited partner of George’s.”

Steinbrenner emerged as one of the most powerful, influential and, in the eyes of many, notorious executives in sports. He was the senior club owner in baseball at his death, the man known as the Boss.

A pioneer of modern sports ownership, Steinbrenner started the wave of high spending for playing talent when free agency arrived in the mid-1970s, and he continued to spend freely through the Yankees’ revival in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the long stretch without a pennant and then renewed triumphs under Torre and General Manager Brian Cashman.

The Yankees’ approximately $210 million payroll in 2009 dwarfed all others in baseball, and the team paid out millions in baseball’s luxury tax and revenue-sharing with small-market teams.

In the frenetic ’70s and ’80s, when general managers, field managers and pitching coaches were sent spinning through Steinbrenner’s revolving personnel door (Billy Martin had five stints as manager), the franchise became known as the Bronx Zoo. In December 2002, Steinbrenner’s enterprise had grown so rich that the president of the Boston Red Sox, Larry Lucchino, frustrated over losing the pitcher Jose Contreras to the Yankees, called them the “evil empire.”

But Steinbrenner and the Yankees thrived through all the arguments, all the turmoil, all the bombast. Having been without a pennant since 1964 when Steinbrenner bought them, enduring sagging attendance while the upstart Mets thrived, the Yankees once again became America’s marquee sporting franchise.

Love him or hate him, and there were plenty of times over the last thirty-seven years when even Yankees fans hated him, there’s no denying that Steinbrenner was unlike any other baseball owner before him. He took a team that had floundered under CBS’s ownership for the better part of a decade — the Yankees had not appeared in a World Series since 1965, and had not won since 1962 — and turned it into a powerhouse. His $ 100 million investment is worth today an estimated $ 1.6 billion and doing better than ever.

Coming only a few days after the death of legendary Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Shepard, this death will be felt deeply in the Yankee family and I’m sure we’ll see some kind of tribute when the team returns to the stadium that George built on July 16th.


Mark Webber wins the British Grand Prix

It was his third Formula One triumph for 2010. From AP-

Mark Webber cruised to his third Formula One victory of the season Sunday after overtaking Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix.Britain F1 GP Auto Racing

The Australian finished 1.36 seconds ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, turning in an immaculate drive at Silverstone after being angered by having to hand over a key car part to Vettel.

“Not bad for a No. 2 driver,” Webber quipped over his radio during his victory lap.

Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was third.

With nine races to go, Hamilton leads the overall standings with 145 points, 12 ahead of McLaren teammate Jenson Button. Webber is third with 128 after becoming the first driver this season to win three races. Vettel is fourth with 121.

Webber’s car has been equipped with the old version of Red Bull’s front wing since qualifying Saturday after the new design was stripped and handed to Vettel, who subsequently took the pole.

But Webber led throughout Sunday after pushing Vettel wide on the opening lap, when Vettel also punctured a tire.

So they raced 80 laps without a lead change. This is almost standard operating procedure for Formula One races. I watched the Monaco Grand Prix two months ago, and the driver who got the lead on the first lap led all the way.

So why does anyone watch these races? For the crashes or to party?


Oakland blasts Angels, Scott Kazmir, 15-1

Kazmir has a 6.92 this season. Ouch. From AP-

The Oakland Athletics have had few nights like this in a first half of the season where scoring runs consistently has been difficult.

Few pitchers have ever had the kind of night Scott Kazmir endured for the Los Angeles Angels.

Rajai Davis capped Oakland’s biggest inning of the season with a grand slam and the Athletics handed Kazmir the worst pounding ever for an Angels pitcher in a 15-1 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Kazmir (7-9) allowed eight runs in the third inning and five more in the fifth, capped by back-to-back homers by Coco Crisp and Daric Barton.

“Today is a tough one to swallow,” Kazmir said. “I can’t have too much confidence after a game like this.”

The 13 runs are the most allowed by an Angels pitcher, topping the 11 Scott Schoeneweis gave up against Baltimore on May 23, 2001. It was the most in the majors since St. Louis’ Jason Marquis allowed 13 to the Chicago White Sox on June 21, 2006.

I wonder why Angels Manager Mike Sciossia left Kazmir out there so long. Was the team’s bullpen overworked and in need of a rest? Most ML teams carry a 12-man pitching staff today and other than overwork I wouldn’t know why a manager wouldn’t throw his worst pitcher(A mop up man out there) to finish up. That was the practice of ML managers when staffs were only 9 or 10 pitchers in size. A pitcher who gets hit that hard is likely to feel less confident about himself, and with Kazmir already struggling before last night, that has be considered a certainty.


LeBron James’ Cowardly Betrayal


By now, everyone knows that LeBron James has decided to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.    To do so, he’ll have to take less money than the Cavs could have paid him but he’ll have an infinitely better chance at a championship than he’d have had on a poorly run team that somehow managed to simultaneously not have any other great players and yet not have enough cap space to try to fix that any time soon.

But Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert isn’t just disappointed, he’s livid.

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

As Time‘s Sean Gregory put it, this is simply “unhinged.”

First, the NBA isn’t Little League.  To the extent that players on a given team are from the local area, it tends to be happenstance.   Few members of the Cavaliers are from Ohio.

Second, James was only with the Cavs because they really, really sucked the year he was coming out of high school and got lucky in the lottery.   Had one of the other of the six crappiest teams from the year before drawn the winning ball, they’d have been able to conscript James to play with them for the first few years of his career.

Third, free agents leave teams and teams sign free agents all the time.   Indeed, that’s the whole point of free agency.

Fourth, professional basketball is a business.   Teams fire coaches — as Cleveland did just weeks ago — and get rid of players — as the Cavs will do with Shaquille Oneal — who don’t live up to expectations all the time.   Why should players be bound in perpetuity to a team without reciprocity?

Fifth, as already noted, the Cavs totally mismanaged the situation.  Even very casual fans of the game, like myself, have known for at least two years that there would be a bidding war for James, Wade, Bosh, and others come July 1.   The Knicks, Heat, and Bulls made moves to put themselves into a position to be able to bid.   The Cavs did not.    So, James was faced with the choice of staying with a mediocre team — and that, only because of his own contribution — or jumping to one savvy enough to compete for a title.    He chose the latter.

Sixth, Cleveland just isn’t a free agent haven.   Indeed, Toronto had tried to trade Bosh to them last week — which would have not only made the Cavs more competitive to keep James but would have netted Bosh a cool $30 million — and Bosh put the kibosh on that.   Rich athletes don’t want to live in Cleveland.   It’s just not a world class city.

All that said, I agree with Gilbert on one thing:   Dragging this out and then doing a major television announcement was a rather classless way of handling the situation.   Leaving his hometown team was the right thing to do but this was the wrong way to handle it.   Thankfully for James, though, Gilbert’s over-the-top response was much worse.


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