First Coupla Innings Live.

A Lot of East Coast Baseball Fans will be Wondering why the Kid From Third Rock from the Sun is Starting for the NL.

A Lot of East Coast Baseball Fans will be Wondering why the Kid From Third Rock from the Sun is Starting for the NL.

Well I heard Pedro took his physical.  He’s on the premises people, but no word on any kind of contract, so forget about Petey.  I’ll roll out some live commentary on the first few innings of the Mid-Summer Classic.  Please feel free to send in thoughts, comments, whatever during the game.  Disparaging remarks about the announcers are a personal favorite.   Personal attacks at players are also welcome.  I may do a shot every time Joe Buck 1)mentions his father, 2) laughs at his own joke, 3) Mentions his HBO show.  Speaking of which, Artie Lange on Buck’s Show.  Sooper Awkward.

8:01 PM– Super high sap factor in the Opening Segment, but if you don’t like Jack Buck’s “On a homerun by the Wizard” call…then you probably don’t like baseball, and should turn the game off.  Buck mentions his dad…drink.

8:03 PM — Barack met the players before the game…he’s just one of the guys that Obama.  I thinking he kind of throws a little hump back change-up for this first pitch.  A strike, but nothing special.   For the next hour, we’ll be introduced to everyone in the stadium.

8:08 PM– The fans are so nice in St. Louis.  I don’t think they’re going to boo anyone.  I’m having trouble processing this.  Let’s wait for a Yankee to get introduced.  Monster ovation for Mo Rivera…do these people care if they win or lose?  The entire Rays team made the squad apparently as well…including Ben Zobrist, my least favorite player.  I would have booed the hell out of that mullet. 

8:11 PM — Ok, they booed Ted Lilly.  That makes me feel a little better.  He is Ted Lilly.  They just announced tonight’s losing pitcher, Trevor Hoffman.

8:17 PM– I think I saw tears in men’s eyes in the stands when Pujols was introduced.  Maybe it’s allergies.  Shane Victorino worst All-Star/non-fan vote starter ever?

8:19 PM — Where do they store these giant American flags they use for these games, and how many of them are there?  Are they regional?  Like Goodyear blimps?

8:31 PM — Sheryl Crow with the anthem…a Missouri native, who knew? Paula and Randy liked it, Simon thought it was something you’d hear on a cruise ship.

8:37 PM — Can I say the Cleveland Show looks terrible?  I mean, I didn’t even cringe, crack a smile, nothing…during that preview.  Seth McFarlane is the M. Night whatever of animated sitcoms. 

8:39 PM — I’m more excited to see Stan the Man than Barack’s opening pitch.  I always like to watch the players when the old guys like Musial come out.  Pretty cool…Musial could “flat hit” by all accounts.  Here comes Barack…Verdict on his first pitch:  Not too shabby.  Verdict on my pizza:  Delicious.  It’s delivery, not DiGiorno.

8:43 PM –McCarver’s already pissing me off.  He butched 4 words, sounds drunk, and said, “buoyed the Blue Jays”

8:48 PM — Forgot about the extra innings last year already.  McCarver has said three of the following four things about Lincecum.  He’s “Bionic”, “Amazing”, “Remarkable”, and “Cute.”

8:49 PM — Who is Ken Rosenthal, and why is he doing Erin Andrews’s job?  They should have that guy interrogate prisoners of war.  They’d give everything up in seconds.  Lincecum gives up a broken bat base-hit to Ichiro to start the game.  It’s all right, he’s still “dynamite in the sack” according to McCarver.  Maybe Jeter will ground into a DP.

8:55 PM — Jeter gets plunked.  Unfortunately hand doesn’t appear to be broken.  I think McCarver’s baseball memories are about 50% accurate.  The rest are just dreams he’s had or someone else’s stories.  After the first run of the game scores on a Pujols error, McCarver calls him “Louie”

9:00 PM — 2-0 American League.  National League playing like half-hearted Little Leaguers who just want their dog and soda after the game.  Finally out of it…It’s Roy time baby.  Can’t wait to hear adjective choice.

9:03 PM — Halladay is Toronto’s I-Beam. 

9:05 PM — Utley puts his video study to use by grounding out to first.  Is this a JV/Varsity game?  Albert Pujols attempts to make up for his error by hitting a seed at Michael Young.  Maybe the luckiest pick-up I’ve ever seen a pro make, but still a 1-2-3 innting.

9:11 PM — They’re letting Roy Halladay hit.  This would be a classic time for a beanball injury, at which point JP Ricciardi would throw himself out of the box he’s sitting in.  Halladay is wearing a generic blue helmet.  This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.  It looks like gym class softball.

9:16 PM –Bing.com is the first ever “decision engine”.  Do they make hot girlfriend engines?  Oh yeah, it’s called Craigslist.

9:17 PM — Obama is in the booth.  This guy could sell burgers at a PETA convention.  By the way, someone turn off McCarver’s mic before it gets awkward.  NL gets a broken bat hit, and then a clean single by Shane Victorino.  Just like I said, deserving starter.  Hometown hero Yadier Molina…base hit.  American League pays back an error, and it’s 2-2.  Both these pitchers stink…

9:29 PM — National League takes a 3-2 lead on Little Cecil’s RBI double.  I’m tempted to quit while I’m ahead, but I’ll do one more inning.  It’s hard to actually watch the game doing this…I think I’ve said the before.

9:32 PM — Hometown closer Rich Franklin enters for the NL.  I don’t know who is on the NL staff, but I guess they definitely watned to get this guy an inning.  I like it.  Let’s pack it in, and win this thing 3-2.

9:36 PM — Chase flies out to center.  I’m pretty spent.  I think I’m packing it in.  The NL isn’t losing this thing on my watch. 

–Pedro has apparently signed with the Phillies.  The announcement should come tomorrow, and Pedro could be ready to pitch in the big leagues by early August.  If he heads to Lehigh Valley for any of his rehab starts, we’ll be sure to have a full report.  Pedro on the Phils.  Total mindblower…

AL Home Field Advantage Preview

This guy?  Right here?  Idiot.

This guy? Right here? Idiot.

Somewhere along the line the MLB All-Star game went from being a showcase for talent to a showcase for Bud Selig’s idiocy. I remember attending the 1986 game in Houston, and there was palpable excitement in the air. Now, I was seven, and that probably had a little to do with it, but you could tell the game meant something…more than Selig’s artificial stakes.

The dominance of the AL in recent years hasn’t helped interest at all. It’s hard to believe the NL can be so inferior, but even this year you look at the lineups, and cringe a bit. It looks like it’s going to be another AL triumph. To win, the National League will need great pitching, and maybe a timely hit or two for the first time in about a decade. I’ll be watching for a few things…for as long as I can last at least.

Definitely have interest in the first couple innings, just to see Halladay vs. Lincecum.  You don’t always get the marquee guys starting the game.  I was worried they were going to trot Tim Shake and Bakefield out there for the AL, but this matchup is the real deal.   I haven’t had the chance to see Lincecum pitch much, and he’ll be tested tonight.  Halladay on the other hand, will be making his official tryout for the critical eyes of Three Putt Territory.  It’ll be hard not to imagine Halladay in a Phillies uniform as he mows down the National League lineup.

Speaking of the Phils I’ll be anxious to see how they fare.  I heard Chase Utley asked for video on the AL pitchers to study.  Oh, that Utley.  Such an overachiever.  I’d like to see him have a big game, and the other guys…well I hope no one gets hurt.  Keep a close eye on Charlie Manuel as well.  It’d be hard to really mess this game up when you have 33 players, but Chuck could find a way.  He’s to managing what Selig is to commisioner-ing.  I could see Chuck running out of pitchers, or trying to re-enter a starter into the game as if it was gosh darn Little League. 

I’m a National League city guy, so I really would like to see the NL pull a game out here.  I don’t know how it’s going to be possible, but if they win, it’ll likely be a low scoring affair.  They just need to keep those AL bats in check for a couple innings.  I remember when the game was in Houston a few years back, and Roger Clemens (the unofficial host) got his lips ripped off in the first inning…and that was all she wrote.  We need some competition.  If they’re preempting a House re-run I damn well better be entertained. 

I’ll check in late afternoon to tell everyone how many balls I lost at Commonwealth…and to see if Pedro passed his physical.  Pedro Matinez, Mr. August.  Feel the excitement.

The Difficulty Debate.

Cape Kidnappers Looks a Little Penal.

Cape Kidnappers Looks a Little Penal.

A couple things made this question pop into my mind.  Why does a golf course have to be difficult to be considered good?  I’m headed to play Commonwealth National in Horsham, PA today, and it’s a very nice Arnold Palmer design, but it is easy to get the score headed North in a hurry.  You have to be hitting it well, and it’s the kind of place that can put you into a slump all by itself.  The difficulty of the layout produces a lot of good players, but at the same time, I can’t imagine a typical player has any fun there on a regular basis.  Somewhere along the line losing a dozen golf balls became part of the game, almost a badge of honor that one had played a good golf course. 

Certainly for a course to be championship worthy it has to be difficult.  The older, classic American courses are diffcult due to natural changes in terrain, and natural hazards.  If you play a course like this you will have trouble in the bunkers, be overwhelmed by the rough, and probably shoot a million, but you’re not going to lose a hundy spot worth of golf balls.  There’s no penalty shot allowance.  And, that’s where some of the newer courses make their reputation.  With all the good natural terrain and hazards used up for older courses, housing developments, whatever…designers are forced to make tracks out of less desirable pieces of land.  What we get is the modern monster.  Places carved through swamps, quarries, wetlands, and even the occasional landfill….if all that fails they just take a flat piece of land, and mound the horse-bleep out of it, and plant fescue everywhere.

Without much to defend itself we get an array of hazards.  Environmentally protected areas, waist high grass or brush all over the place, sand dunes leading into oblivion.   You miss the fairway at one of these places, and it’s time to reload.  It’s not punch out and try to salvage a bogey, it’s re-tee and brace yourself for a smooth triple.  Play by the rules, and you could have 12-15 penalty shots.  These places are another contributor to the rampant cheating in golf, and I don’t blame people for not wanting to be hitting 3,5,7 off every tee.  It’s insane.  Not only does it inflate scores, but it grinds pace of play to a halt.  You spend an hour golfing, and four and half looking for slap nut’s ball. 

So,  what I’m really proposing an upscale, well appointed, easy golf course.   Give me wide fairways, moderately paced greens, a uniform first cut of rough that is completely playable.  Visually striking, but shallow faced bunkers, docile greens.  Where is this place?  Perfectly conditioned, all the amenities, the service, the practice facility, but you don’t shoot 135 every time out.  It’s a good time not looking for golf balls all day.  It feels good to shoot a good score every once in a while, and so you know that you shot it at a course that isn’t terribly difficult….who cares?  Mix in a birdie from time to time.  This notion of self punnishment by playing golf courses that are too hard, from tees that are too long, just baffles me. 

Find your level, you’ll have more fun.