How Much Influence Will AL East Have?

Will The Rays Be Buyers?

It doesn’t matter how you look at it, there’s no way you could argue that the AL East doesn’t have three of the best 8 teams in baseball.  The third place Red Sox would be leading 4 of the other 5 divisions, but right now they sit on the outside of the playoff picture.  With such a competitive division, and in a year where the Rays think they are positioned to go all-in, I wonder how much the AL East’s maneuvering will impact the rest of baseball.  Before the season started, before the Rays’ young arms had a brilliant first half there was some speculation that the Rays could be the biggest seller come the July 31st deadline.  Would they think of moving Carl Crawford if they were out of the race?  It seemed likely, given their previous moves, but considering where they stand and that they were rumored to be in the Cliff Lee race, you can forget about adding a piece from Tampa.  In fact, you’ll have to out-bid them.

It could be a good summer to be a seller.  Already we’ve seen Seattle add the highly regarded Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee deal.  The remaining pieces on the market, the ones that could make a difference could be hot commodities.  Roy Oswalt?  Dan Haren?  Ben Sheets?  These guys aren’t exactly Cliff Lee, but there are a lot of teams out there that need pitching.  Bats might be even more difficult to come by.  The shortage of help is causing teams to pull the trigger early.  The Rangers already did, and yesterday you saw the Braves make a trade that I am lukewarm on, but a lot of people like.  It seems like the last couple weeks before the deadline aren’t going to be available for evaluation.  If you want to get better, and you don’t want to get beaten to the punch by someone in the overly competitive AL, you might need to get on it.

So, what does this mean for the Phillies?  Well, considering there are rumors swirling in both directions:  The Phils might add pitching, they might trade Jayson Werth, or both, you have to feel like the Phils will do something.  I think they’d like to see how the next couple weeks go, but as I mentioned above, they might not have that luxury.  Ideally you wait and see if Happ re-enters the rotation, you wait for Madson, and see how the offense does with Polanco back.  That would give you a better idea of what these Phillies can be, but time is slipping away.  Along with the trades, the Phillies must decide what to do with Dominic Brown, their prized AAA prospect.  Is bringing him up part of the plan?  Is it worth the risk to see if he jump starts the offense?

Phillies open the second half with the Cubs.  They set the rotation up perfectly.  Jamie Moyer on the hill tonight, Blanton tomorrow.  Good stuff.  The Cubs are down, but from there it’s Cardinals, and Rockies, and the momentum from that razor-thin sweep over Cincy needs to be maintained.  Polanco back this weekend (thank god), and as far as healthy guys that need to step up?  I think the list goes Rollins, Lidge, Blanton and Victorino.

St. Andrews Left Defenseless.

A 66 and A Great Pair of Pants are Only Good For T-2.

I’m sure there are a lot of, “I thought this was a Major, not the Bob Hope,” jokes flying around St. Andrews today.  I went to bed last night with visions of the terrible forecast and ballooning scores in my head.  This morning I find short sleeves and scoring records.  It has rained too much at St. Andrews over the last few days, and the softened course is there for the taking in the almost windless conditions.  To a man the players are saying they’ve never seen the course more vulnerable.  The guys in with good scores have gotten a jump on the field, if you shot around par this morning, you likely feel the tournament has already slipped through your grasp.  For Phil Mickelson and the rest of the afternoon groups, the pressure is on, and I’m sure fingers are crossed that the weather holds.  Some amazing stuff that’s already happened…

Here’s a deadly combination, Rory McIlroy can go low and in nine tournament rounds at St. Andrews, he’s broken 70 every time out.   The prodigy hadn’t had his major championship moment until this morning, when he took control of the tournament.  Just last month he had a very disappointing showing at Pebble Beach, and his game looked rife with inconsistencies.  But, if you shoot 62 to win on Sunday at Quail Hollow there’s no shortage of talent.  We’ve been watching guys in their twenties have great years, and one prodigy after another has come along after Tiger and shown promise, but they’ve never taken the step to win a major (Garcia, Scott, AK, etc).  If Rory were to do that this week, it’d be a huge, historical story.

We got a laugh out of John Daly at the Champions photo shoot.  It wasn’t one of his most photogenic moments, but the 1995 Open Champion set the tone for the whole day, scorching a stretch of holes in the middle of his round and getting to 7-under before finishing with 66.  Daly put together a solid week at the Scottish Open so this isn’t completely out of the blue.  It was a hell of a start, but JD is going to have to show us a lot more than 18 holes.  We’ve seen him go 66-76 before, and as much as he may be trying to bring stability to his life, his golf game is still a little volatile.  He can play St. Andrews, though, and if he were in contention, that’d be an unexpected bonus.  Still few golfers are as popular, especially amongst casual fans.  Daly doesn’t contend in Majors often, hardly ever, but when he has been around, he hasn’t collapsed under the pressure.  Something to think about.

Tiger got to play 18 holes in the benign conditions as well, and his 67 sounds like it could have been even better.  Four shots behind McIlroy is a great position for Woods, and he’s started strong in a major for the first time this year.  If we’re going to get unusually low scoring, there was no room for Tiger to shoot a plodding 72, or something along those lines.  The attention is squarely on his new Nike Method putter.  It appears the results from the first round aren’t very encouraging, but one round is a pretty small sample size.   It’s about the results anyway.  He could average 32 putts a round, if he wins, Nike will be selling them by the truckload.

Guess that’s about it for now.  No Tom Watson magic on day one, good day for long hitters and some pretty good showing for young Americans like Watney and O’Hair.  I guess it is about what is to be expected, it’s just everyone’s score is about 4 shots better than I thought it would be.  Luckily the R&A isn’t obsessed with par, the USGA would be hysterical if someone dropped a 63 in the U.S. Open.

The Jean Short Open Will Return!

Last Year I Went Capri. This Year...

I went dipping back into the archives again.  Second time in a week or so.  There’s a lot of gold there, well maybe not gold, but a whole lot of something.  I looked because I wondered what was going on this time last year?  It really feels like things have come to a standstill and I wanted to check if last year was far more interesting, or if I was just cranking out 500 words of nonsense a couple of times a day.  Turns out, a little bit of both, but last

July was a pretty hot time.  Pedro had arrived.  We had the Halladay rumors, which would not be realized until much later, Tom Watson almost won the damn Open Championship, but more importantly, it was Jean Short Open week.  If you weren’t around for last year’s JSO, or just want to reminisce, you can read about the event here.  A simple search for “jean shorts” will fully catch you up to speed.

It was without a doubt the premier golf event on the summer calendar, and I’m happy to announce that it’ll return, for your viewing pleasure on August 14th.  Now, this isn’t an invitation to join us.  The JSO has year in, and year out been named along with the Crump Cup and The Swallows as one of the 3 most exclusive golf tournaments of the year.  You don’t just enter.  If you thought you deserved to play, or felt that you had an outfit worthy of the show, well I suppose you could send me a long email or ‘application’ that I could look at.  Honestly, you’d have a better chance of getting your snot eating kid into pre-school in New York City, but it is called the Jean Short “Open,” so apply if you must.

JSO FAQs:

Why August?

Well, things just went a little too smoothly last year, and that included the weather.  Mid-August, during the hottest summer in recent memory should guarantee an increase in both Coors Light consumption and denim “swass,” which will only make the photos better.

What’s The Format?

We’re going to play the same format as last year, just as soon as someone remembers what that was.  I don’t know if any of you all read KSK, but they had a story today about Jared Allen’s extreme golf outing.  Some interesting brainstorming, and if you have good ideas for this year’s Open, please pass them on.

Are You Wearing the Same Outfit?

Let me refer to a direct quote from an email sent to me by Hank Moody.  Hank was the best dressed last year.  His words, “Well, I purposely destroyed last year’s outfit so that I could start with a fresh slate.”  I think that says a lot.  We’re committed to better outfits, and if Rand has his way, we’ll be matching.

If I wanted to Have my Own JSO, where do I get the shorts?

TJ Maxxxx.  Or Marshalls.  Incidentally, these are both great places to pick up a shirt as well.  Also, don’t be afraid to type the most ridiculous description you can think of into the Ebay search bar.

Is this tournament offensive to people who wear jean shorts on a regular basis?

No.  People who wear jean shorts on a regular basis are incapable of being offended.

In closing, I offer, The Capris….and consider this your Open Championship Open Thread.  If you were up at 4 am Watching, update me.

How Many Denim Cows Died to Make These Shorts?