That 3-2 Dream.

I don't see Tom Brady Throwing A TD to Little Johnny Moynihan in 2027.

I don’t see Tom Brady Throwing A TD to Little Johnny Moynihan in 2027.

Are there less sons of professional football players in the NFL than in other sports?  The other night the Giants played a game where Bruce Bochy was managing his son, who was pitching to Tom Gordon’s son, it was all quite incestuous. Obviously the case of a father and son on the same team (see the Griffeys) is extraordinarily rare, but in baseball it seems like fathers at least coach, or coach against their sons on a somewhat regular basis.  This is something else that doesn’t necessarily happen in the NFL.  It’s so hard to be an NFL head coach it seems like being a player is almost a disadvantage? Oh, you weren’t a graduate assistant under a Bellichick protege and then a “quality control assistant” during your twenties? Sorry, back of the line with your Pro Bowls and Super Bowl rings.  It’s certainly better to be related to an NFL coach if you want to coach than to play the game professionally.  If you grew up watching pops draw on napkins, you can ride that all the way to glory, or to the head job with the Jets.  YOUR CHOICE.

The question is, is it smart to coach kids, or is it just better to interfere with the actual coach from the sidelines?  Certainly no one can just let their child be coached, right?  You must have some opinion, so why not offer it up in an official capacity? Of course, you could be a terrible coach, in which case, you probably want to save the other 12 youngsters and just ruin your own kid with your terrible theories and techniques.  A real conundrum, not unlike trying to figure out the National Football League, a sport where the Saints can lose to the Browns, yes those Browns.

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings: 

  1. Grossy, 3-2
  2. DC, 5-5
  3. Kraft, 4-6
  4. Big Dub, 4-6

***

The “Ken Griffey Jr.” Pick of the Week:  Grossy, Philadelphia +3

Well, this could be my only lead of the year.  If you remember my pick, I talked vaguely about poor defense for both teams (that happened!) and then I made some arbitrary comments about just taking the points when in doubt.  That’s ANALYSIS.  I also said I don’t much like Foles, which is still the case after Darren Sproles strapped the team on his back Monday night. Sproles and the refs put on quite a show.  I’ve always been fond of Sproles, for fantasy purposes, going back to his SD days, but watching him play regular football is still quite entertaining.

The “Pete Rose Jr.” Awful Pick of the Week:  Kraft, Tampa Bay (-6) 

Kraft, as the resident expert on all horrible Florida football, gets judged quite harshly on these games.  As a professional handicapper, he’s expected to have all the hot tips on the Bucs and Jags.  If there is going to be a week where Jacksonville doesn’t get outscored by 11 TDs in the 2nd half, I expect Kraft to have his finger on the pulse.  Now, I’m not so sure.  I guess he didn’t see Austin Davis coming.  Then, who did?

***

The 3-PT D.A. of the Week:  MATT CASSEL!

Eli ONLY threw two interceptions this week (not bad, kiddo!) and really I couldn’t do that to him every week, though the humor of it I think would have eventually settled in.  We are running out of time to enjoy Matt Cassel.  The Vikings have themselves in a really awful PR spot right now with the AP situation and it might appease the fans and take some attention away from the negatives if they just said, “Hey Look, Bridgewater!”  Also, Matt Cassel is terrible and shouldn’t be a starter in the league.  It was a D.A. symphony from Cassel, who threw 4 INTS (1 returned for a TD), was sacked six times, and managed to complete barely 50 percent of his passes.  Checking the abacus, that’s about 50 D.A. points.  BOOM.

***

The Return of the Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top 10.

  1. Denver, 2-0. Great Regular Season Team.
  2. Seattle, 1-1. 1/2 free pass for getting Gates’d.
  3. Carolina, 2-0. Great D. High Water Mark.
  4. Philadelphia, 2-0.  Awful D. Great “scat” back.
  5. Cincinnati, 2-0.  Sanu over Dalton?
  6. Buffalo, 2-0. For laughs, High Water Mark.
  7. Houston, 2-0. Still laughing, High Water Mark.
  8. San Diego, 1-1.  They beat Seattle!
  9. New England, 1-1.  They beat the Vikings!
  10. Arizona, 2-0.  Wins against the Giants don’t count.

Week Two NFL Picks.

Fire Up the BItcoin ATM.

Fire Up the BItcoin ATM.

I think all NFL rookie QBs should play immediately.  My curiosity demands it.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the master class in “veteran” Chad Henne I watched last Sunday, but that didn’t stop me from wondering about Bortles.  This might come as a surprise to you, but I did not watch Jacksonville’s pre-season games.  I also did not catch much of Bortles in college, so when people start talking about Bortles actually being good–that’s something I want to see for myself.  Because, I’m still pretty sure Blake Bortles is going to be a pretty bad NFL quarterback, but I’d like to be proven right or wrong immediately.  I don’t want to wait why Bortles marinates like a Memorial Day flank steak.

It’s all about that instant answer, the appeasement of the ever shrinking attention span.  This is why betting on games is so fulfilling (for some people).  You may not know the outcome sometime until the final minutes, but I guarantee every casual or amateur bettor has chalked a game up as a win or a loss in their mind within the opening few drives.  Early lead?  Counting that money.  Early deficit?  Go to the quiet place and look for the next game to bet on.  With that in mind, here are some games that I’ll be unusually interested in…

GROSSY: 0-0

Carolina (-3) over Detroit.  

Now that Megatron is off my fantasy team for the first time in years (not my fault), I can look at Detroit a little more objectively.  Skinny Matt Stafford does look dangerous, but there’s just something odd about this line?  As I mentioned in the last post, Carolina was a popular pick to fall off a cliff.  Yet they won week one (with DA) and now are favored against a playoff team?  Someone is trying to tell you that the Panthers are back, baby!  I don’t care if Cam plays or not, I hear about Detroit’s defensive front all the time and yet teams continue to put up mountains of points against them.  Lions wilt in that southern humidity…

Tennessee (-3.5) over Dallas.

Dallas is horrible.  Is there a Dallas/Giants prime time game this year, because I am already dreading that slop.  Jake Locker appears to be rounding into a very average NFL quarterback, but that’s more than enough to coast here.  I would not be surprised if the Titans won by double digits, and I’m not sure I’ve said that since 1997.

New England (-3) over Minnesota.  

Doesn’t really feel like the Patriots are going to start 0-2, does it?  Minnesota blew out the diaper fire that is St. Louis, but I wouldn’t get too ahead of yourselves up there in southern Canada.  Belichick knows how to beat Cassel.  He taught him everything he knows!  Seriously, though, this line is probably at least double this last week.

Atlanta (+5) over Cincinnati.  

Last season I fearlessly picked the Falcons to go to the Super Bowl.  I’m not sure they won a game.  But, I think the Falcons have drug themselves out of the league’s basement for this season and the Bengals are never, ever a team I’d feel real comfortable laying points with.  Road dogs against the shell of the Steelers?  Sign me up, but I’m not ready for a world where Cincy is a comfortable home favorite against everyone.  I don’t care how much money they gave the Rojo Gunslinger.

Philadelphia (+3) over Indianapolis.  

The Colts don’t stop anyone.  The Eagles don’t stop anyone.  Everyone seems to think that the Colts have to win this game, like it is pre-ordained by the bumbling commissioner himself.  I think it’s a total coin-flip, and since I have to pick the last game, might as well take the points.  For the record, I still don’t like Foies.

Big Dub: 2-3

  1. Pittsburgh (+2.5) over Baltimore
  2. Miami (-1) over Buffalo
  3. New York Giants (+2.5) over Arizona
  4. Cincinnati (-5) over Atlanta
  5. Chicago (+7) over San Francisco

Kraft: 2-3

  1. Tenneesee (-3.5) over Dallas
  2. Buffalo (+1) over Miami
  3. Green Bay (-8) over NYJ
  4. Chicago (+7) over San Francisco
  5. Tampa Bay (-6) over St. Louis

DC: 3-2

  1. Kansas City (+13) over Denver
  2. Atlanta (+5) over Cincinnati
  3. Detroit (+3) over Carolina
  4. New York Giants (+2.5) over Arizona
  5. New England (-3) over Minnesota

Tuesday Morning Self-Esteem Check.

I'm Sure Self-Esteem Remains High.

I’m Sure Self-Esteem Remains High.

Is it possible the NFL could become less popular?  They are testing the fans right now.  The juggernaut they built through marketing, fantasy football, and gambling is starting to feel like some asshole driving around in an H2 with 40 inch tires getting 2.7 miles a gallon.  The league is a PR nightmare right now, but I’m still not sure that any of it matters.  From the reprehensible handling of the Ray Rice decision all the way down to the laughable Heads Up Football initiative, every decision the NFL makes lately is late, half-hearted, and done solely in their own interest.  I don’t think the fans really care, though.  They may offer lip service, Ray Rice will be loudly booed if he ever makes it back onto the field (he probably will), but no one is going to turn off the TV, no one is going to withdraw from their fantasy league.  The NFL just rolls on, and makes me wonder, what would have to happen for this league to actually take a hit?

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings: 

Picks for week one were conducted in a cloak and dagger manner over electronic mail.  Your host, the formerly prolific blogger, did not make any picks at all.  This is a good thing as heat and Coors Light induced dehydration likely would have clouded my judgement.  Moving forward expect us to revert to the traditional Pick ‘Em format, you know, that novel idea where you see the picks before the games actually happen.  Weird.  

  1. DC, 3-2
  2. Nichols, 3-2
  3. Kraft, 2-3
  4. Big Dub, 2-3
  5. Grossy, 0-0

The “Wheel of Fortune Slots,” Pick of the Week: DC, Minnesota (+3) over St. Louis.  

Let me just check the score here….yep, that’s 34-6 Vikings.  When was the last time Minnesota blew someone out?  That’s a serious question.  Was Jeff George the QB? Was it before Robert Smith retired to be an actor?  Minnesota’s role in this game was what was surprising to me.  I’m certainly not surprised the Rams put up six points.  That seems in line with the offensive machine they’ve assembled there, but look at the Vikes!  Cranking up 34 points on a defense that was a trendy pick to be among the best in the league.  Matt Cassel is a winner people!  Only thing this pick lacked was a definitive OUTRIGHT tag.  

The “Fro-Yo Bubble,” Awful Pick of the Week:  Various: Tampa over Carolina.  

I can produce the emails I received, but i’m sure you’ll take my word.  The Bucs were a hot trend this week.  The Bucs I said to myself?  I haven’t been following the NFL as closely as usual.  Is that hobbled giraffe that makes Nick Foles look athletic, Mike Glennon, their starting QB?  OH NO, it’s Josh McCown.  NOW I UNDERSTAND.  When a team turns the keys over to a McCown you sit up and take notice.  The amazing thing is, McCown lost convincingly to Derek Anderson.  Yep, that same Derek Anderson.  Maybe the, “Oh my god Carolina is going to drop to 4-12″ meme got a little too much momentum in the pre-season.  

***

The 3PT DA of the Week:  ELI MANNING!!!

I just decided right now that I would like to give this to Eli every week this season, and I can’t do that if he doesn’t win week one!  It was a pretty star-studded field for DA.  Mr. Anderson himself took the field and shredded the Bucs.  He’s back!  Nick Foles played what was probably the worst half of Eagles football since a Detmer.  The Rams had someone on the field named Austin Davis?  Anyone?  But, since I don’t really blog that much anymore, it wouldn’t feel right not taking an available shot at the Giants.  Has anyone ever blown a coverage on Megatron like that?  Honest question.  Has Megatron been that open since Pee-Wee?  Kind of feels like a guy you keep track of, but anyway, Eli was a steady 18/33 for a buck sixty and a couple picks. Also led the league in diaper load faces.  I don’t have the slide rule next to me, but that’s in the neighborhood of 30 DA points.  

Ok, we’re back.  Can’t wait to get after it next week.  

The Jean Short Open: The Year of the Vest.

Because Why The Hell Not?

Because Why The Hell Not?

What can you say about the Jean Short Open that hasn’t already been said?  Year six of the JSO is a bit like re-watching one of your favorite movies.  You know you are going to love it, but you aren’t sure if you are going to discover something you’ve never seen before.  Well, just like in all other areas, the JSO never, ever disappoints.  

For the first time ever the JSO was pushed to Labor Day weekend.  A devastating wrist injury (suffered before Sunday’s photo leak) pushed back the original date and after a special request by Rodger Goodell to not distract the nation from the start of the NFL season, we ended up choosing to spend part of our holiday weekend at fabled Pickering Valley Golf Club. 

What wasn’t new this year:

1.  I lost again!  What the hell is going on here?  Can you blame your partner two straight years when you have different partners.  Checking….nope, looks like I can’t do that.  The second year without the belt is not going to be any easier than the first.  Believe me.  

2. MOST CLOSELY CONTESTED ATHLETIC EVENT ON EARTH.  The JSO, for the 2nd time in 3 years required extra holes and for the 3rd straight year was all square headed into 18.  If the Ryder Cup produces half the drama, I’d expect monster ratings.  

3. I thought I had a good outfit, until I saw everyone else’s outfit.  

4. No one, and no animals were injured during the playing of the JSO.

5. Coors Light remains the beverage of choice (though just barely).

What was new: 

1. We broke a rule at Pickering.  Apparently there is at least one rule, and this year we finally broke it.  

2. Someone fell out of a golf cart. 

The Big Winners.

                                                                   The Big Winners.

One strange thing that happens with the JSO is you sometimes end up with similar outfits or themes.  After all, the championship belts only exist because two of them showed up independently one year.  So this year, not only did we have three vest, but these two ball strikers went for a formal flair, landing somewhere between Bagger Vance, The Good Humor Man, and an old-timey carnival barker?  Regardless, the point is, the greatness of the JSO lies in the fact that two people MIGHT show up in identical white newsboy caps.  

After our traditional parking lot beer, the day started with our first ever real reaction in the golf shop.  Should note that a group loading up their cars was equally horrified by our presence and one guy seemed to actively peel out in an attempt to dissociate from us as quickly as possible.  Or maybe he was late for his kid’s soccer game.  I DON’T KNOW.  So, in the shop the guy beyond the counter grumbled something about us “starting a new look,” and then made a horribly racist joke.  It was uncomfortable, and I don’t want people to judge Pickering as a whole, but our takeaway was, “We finally got someone to feel something.”  Progress?

The round started out well for yours truly and my partner.  After I birdied the 3rd hole to send us to 2 up, I said, “Don’t worry, it’s not like we’re going to shoot 66….or ARE WE?”  Spoiler Alert: We didn’t.  This is what the winners were up against:

That's a DIY Lee Denim Vest.

                                                         That’s a DIY Lee Denim Vest.

After the first few holes, things went back and forth for the rest of the front nine.  The one thing to note was the incredible beer pace that the winning team was setting.  These guys were hammering down adult beverages and not looking back. Was it hurting their games?  Do they have games to hurt?  So many questions.  In our cart there was some discussion as we played the signature 8th hole about whether or not our opponents could make it 18 holes.  Were they slow rolling us? Spolier Alert: YES!

So, we were one down going into nine, which turned into a real circus when The Mummers brought to you by Men’s Wearhouse was dislodged from his golf cart during a sharp turn.  No footage of this exists as it happened closer to the 18th hole than the one we were playing and things had gotten a little heated on the tee box over the lack of a “great shot point.” I forgot to mention that the JSO probably gets more competitive every year.  Anyway, someone finally fell out of a cart.  It took six years.  

Try to Explain this Picture.

                                                     Try to Explain this Picture.

Much like the front nine, we built an early lead on the back, taking holes 10 (reverse scramble) and 11 with ease.  I would say at this point we got overconfident.  But then the vagaries on the JSO started to catch up to us…

On 14, still up two shots, Haas hit his tee shot directly over his right shoulder (he’s a lefty).  This is pretty much a 180 degree angle to the tee box.  The ball rose, barely cleared the carts that were parked pretty much behind us, and landed like a butterfly.  That’s a great shot point.  Due to the complex scoring system, despite taking that and many other swings on the hole, Haas had a putt FOR EAGLE.  He does not waste such opportunities.  We were back to one up.  

Then, we get to 15.  Which is one club.  This has always held a special place in my heart as I fashion myself as an immensely more talented ball striker than I actually am.  But this year I chose my 7-iron, hit a good drive, scraped one near the green and secured us the win we needed to get back to 2-UP.  

Two up with three to go sounds comfortable, unless you are Mark Calcavecchia at the ’91 Ryder Cup, or you are about to play the 16th hole, which of course is: BEER PAR!  Our team decided to not go for beer par this year since we had the lead. We actually got quite close to making par anyway (Par 3 hole–drivers only), but that was of little matter as our opponents (MVP Haas again) easily did beer par, as always, and cut our lead in half.  

Seventeen is the easiest par-5 in the state of PA–on paper–made more difficult by a day’s worth of drinking and the relatively new rule that I have to hit my drive off the top of a water bottle.  

Finally a shot of my Coors Iron On Patch as I tee it up.

                        Finally a shot of my Coors Iron On Patch as I tee it up.

And this is me blabbing about how great I'm going to hit it.

             And this is me blabbing about how great I’m going to hit it.

I didn’t quite catch all of the drive, but thanks to my partner we were still in fine shape off the tee.  From there, I don’t really recall all the details, again lot of scoring details, but moral was we lost 17 as well.  Back to all square.  On the way to 18, our opponents got their cart stuck on a railroad tie.  This is the 2nd time in my life I’ve had to rescue a cart from a railroad tie and both times I was playing with this foursome. WEIRD.  That attempted distraction DID NOT WORK as we halved 18 and went on to extra holes.  At this point we headed across the parking lot to the 16th tee–thus leading to our first ever reprimand at Pickering.  You see, one of our outfits had changed…due to the rising humidity:

The Tank Top Had Been Engaged by Hole 19.

                  The Tank Top Had Been Engaged by Hole 19.

You see, there are a couple rules at Pickering.  One of which is, you must be in sleeves.  So, while darkness is about to fall and we’re about to play the most important hole of the year the guy from the shop comes out and tells us that a) we have to ask if we want to play extra holes and b) that shirt just isn’t going to fly.  It just “doesn’t look good.”  YEP, that’s what doesn’t look good at Pickering.  Anyway, we threw on some sleeves and got on with the playoff.  

As with all JSO playoffs, this one ended with a very short missed putt.  A three footer can break several inches on the 16th green at Pickering, such is the natural pitch of the land, and the greens are also incredibly slow, so this is quite the combination.  Our team missed two putts and that was all she wrote.  Another year of heartache.  It takes 24 hours to process all that Coors Light, but it’s another 365 until you get a chance to get that belt back.  

The World Cup of Mail.

She's Got the Right Idea.

She’s Got the Right Idea.

I can’t remember why I adopted Switzerland during the last El Cupo Worldo.  Was it their stifling defense?  Their unwavering neutrality?  Hard to say, but I don’t see any real reason to change my allegiances now after that smooth win over Ecuador.  After all, if the US makes a run, I can always just watch the reaction videos on YouTube and feel like I was there.

Q: You strike me as someone who might be concerned with the portion reduction and price increases going on at restaurants, thoughts?  E. Leven Fries, Topeka, KS.

A: I feel like I’ve been hearing about this increase in food prices for a while, but it has just started to sink in, leaving an unfortunate hollow feeling in my wallet and my gut.  I was at a restaurant the other day and they had the stones to charge $16 for a French Dip.  I’m sorry, I wanted a roast beef sandwich–not a DIAMOND.  So, I ordered it anyway, because I was already trapped and inside the restaurant.  Imagine my relief when they compensated by giving me a quart of “jus.”  GREAT.  So, there was my sandwich, my soup bowl of jus and some fries on the plate for sixteen bucks.  The food was perfectly fine, but COME ON.  I’ve noticed portions dwindling all over the place.  I’ve noticed a lot people asking if you want lemon in your water, which is great for me, because I DO NOT, but really?  Every other condiment is getting rationed out in a little cup, like you got one pass through the line at Fuddruckers.  It is a disturbing, disturbing trend.  I’m worried the country’s obesity epidemic could be in danger.

Q: What floor would you have to live on to take the elevator consistently, assuming you had access to one?  Second, right?  Matt Stares, Camden, NJ.  

A:  I currently live on the ground floor of a building with an elevator, and I have ridden that elevator a few times for NO PARTICULAR REASON.  It’s amazing that in these modern times an elevator can feel like such an extravagance. My elevator frame of reference is going to take me back to college where I lived on various floors of various buildings where I wasn’t exactly supposed to have elevator access.  Sophomore year we lived on the 4th floor and for a time we had access to an elevator key.  Hard to put into words how important an elevator key makes you feel. I don’t remember if it was gained through bribery, or through fake injury, but it was a coveted item.  Four flights of stairs is a lot, especially in the wee hours of the morn.  That said, I walked up and down those stairs hundreds of times and allowed myself to feel a sense of accomplishment.  I’m the guy who would walk up four flights with a pizza and scoff at the guy getting off the elevator on his way back from an 83-minute kettlebell workout.  Because my legs are bit older now than they were in college, I’m putting the cutoff at the 4th floor.  Fourth floor, I’m riding. Anything less than that I am pretending I am getting a great workout–unless I’m carrying something, like A grocery, then ride–obviously.  

Q: It’s been over 40 years since Miller High Life trotted out the 7 oz. pony bottle.  Is this a valid way to drink beer?  Yul Pint, Tacoma, WA.

A:  I’ve never had a High Life in a pony bottle.  Can anyone drink JUST 7 ounces of the champagne of beers?  Your question inspired me to do some research on the pony bottle and it seems like it was invented by YOUR Rolling Rock brewery, of Latrobe, PA, after the depression.  It seems that a full 12 oz. was a bit steep for some of the folks still getting their feet under them, so this was a way to drink after work and still MAYBE have enough money for food–or whatever.  Rolling Rock is the first beer I ever had in pony bottle, probably at some “pony party,” in college, which sounds like a great idea until you end up with twice as many empties and floaters.  Is it a valid way to drink beer?  Pretty much any way to drink beer is a valid way to drink beer.  Why would I judge?  I think Rolling Rock is horrible, so 7 ounces might be more palatable than 12, but if it’s your beer of choice and you like collecting little bottles for arts and crafts, or to put in with your kid’s lunch–BY ALL MEANS–go pony.  

Q: Is cat litter getting a bit too descriptive?  Do I need to know that it’s SUPER CLUMP?  

A:  Cat litter is an interesting product, because I’m sure some of it works better than others, but in a certain sense, none of it REALLY works.  I guarantee if your cat lets it happen and you are within nose-shot, you are going to know about it and it’s going to be unpleasant for a couple of minutes.  I guess after that the litter TAKES HOLD, but at that point the room still smells like 95% weird cat litter and 5% cat dumper.  This is what we put up with to have pets.  The cat litter process is really no more or less weird or disgusting than walking miles with digested Kibbles & Bits in a plastic baggy.  Our pets really have us by the balls sometimes.  I have not bought cat litter myself in a long time.  Every once in a while, back in the day, when we had a bunch of cats I might have to pick some up, but we just bought it in industrial sized drums.  Four Petco employees would just forklift it out to the car.  We weren’t reading slogans, we just wanted the BEST VALUE per pound of litter.  Or something.  If this is the direction we’re going though, I have a few ideas–New FRESH STEP PLUS with TURD COCOON POWER!

Q: Say we found another Earth.  Do you think the colonizers would treat it well, knowing how badly we have punished Earth One, or would history repeat itself and see the people just start immediately pumping toxic waste into the rivers?  Brooke Trout, Auburn, AL.

A: I think it’s pretty obvious Earth 2 is getting completely trashed.  It’s like if you told someone you would erase all the damage smoking has done to them over the past 40 years, do you think they’d immediately stop smoking?  No, they’d be like, YES, I now have probably a couple of years of guilt-free smoking, THEN I’LL QUIT.  Sure.  That’s what we’d do with Earth 2.  You’d want to recycle, but look at all that VIRGIN LANDFILL SPACE!  So enticing.  An ozone layer without a single hole?  Fully formed polar ice caps?  It’s a license to pollute.  Would people immediately start practicing sustainable forestry?  Or would they go right to the old growth for their kitchen floors?  I think we know how important hardwood is, so let’s not give the human race too much credit.  Earth 2 might be better off, because we probably wouldn’t be burning coal for 100 years and maybe the chemicals wouldn’t go into the rivers, etc., but I certainly wouldn’t expect any ecological utopia.  

Q: I saw a grocery store the other day selling a patio set for $300.  I do not know if this is a particularly good deal for a patio set, but who buys a patio set at a grocery store?  This wasn’t a yuppie grocery store either, this was an old-school one.  Quick and dirty.  Is a patio set an impulse buy?

A:  Was the patio set displayed by the register with the batteries and M&Ms?  Because then it might be an impulse buy.  Sometimes I think grocery stores have stuff just to fill up space.  They are big stores.  Got a little gap?  How about a giant cage of balls?  I’ve started seeing clothing with the town’s name on it–really?  Milk, eggs, and a sweatshirt that says EXTON please.  So, maybe the patio set just looks good to fill up the space in the summer.  Maybe it reminds people–SH*T, I need charcoal, or something like that and if someone happens to be stupid enough to actually buy it?  TREMENDOUS.  If not, you just trot that thing out the next year at $325.  That’s called inflation.  Of course, maybe this is a really good deal and I don’t even know. Maybe people in the know buy ALL their furniture at Giant.  I just googled “patio set,” and the prices range quite wildly.  It seems like the grocery store isn’t all the way at the bottom of the list though.  Certain outlets would be willing to put you in a patio set for as little as $199.  This furniture will turn to dust the first time it rains and probably grow wildly contaminating mold all over it, but still–SAVINGS.  

 

All Hail Coore and Crenshaw.

These Geniuses Could Probably Fix Pickering.

These Geniuses Could Probably Fix Pickering.

I can’t wait for the U.S. Open to start this week, partly because it is possibly my favorite major, but also because I want to see what Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore have done to the place.  I’ve seen pictures.  I’ve heard stories, but I don’t think it’s going to sink in until we see the course under tournament conditions.  I have a pretty strong memory of Pinehurst.  The 1999 U.S. Open, for obvious reasons, was probably the pinnacle of my golf fandom.  Pinehurst produced an unmatched leaderboard that year, but it did so with ribbons of fairway and heavy rough.  Crenshaw and Coore have blown the place up, restoring all that original grandeur.  The fairways now meld into waste areas, the rough is non-existent, and it should be as spectacular and difficult as ever.

Coore and Crenshaw restore as well as they create.  There are several highly regarded designers out there right now (Doak, Hanse, etc), but I don’t know if anyone gets as consistently praised as these two and they deserve it.  This U.S. Open might help put golf course architect at the top of Ben Crenshaw’s resume rather than Masters Champion, and I honestly think in 50 or 100 years if we’re still playing golf and all the great courses haven’t been taken over for windmill farms, that Crenshaw could be better known for his courses than his on-course exploits.

The older the golf course and the older its designer, the more esteem we seem to give, the thought being that a new course can not instantly be great.  We’ve started to get away from that a little bit with the help of places like Bandon Dunes, or the Coore & Crenshaw masterpiece, Sand Hills.  But, I think time will only make us fonder of the work these two guys are doing.

So, what are we expecting for this U.S. Open at the digitally remastered Pinehurst?

For me there are three stories this week.  The first, is the course, which I just touched on.  Not only is this the wide release debut of the redesign, but Pinehurst is tasked with hosting back-t0-back events.  The women will have their U.S. Open on the same course next week.  So in addition to how it’s playing, there will be a level of concern about how the course is holding up.  I think it’ll do just fine.

The players will be taking center stage, though, and leading the way are Phil and Rory.  With Tiger still sidelined with his back injury, we look to Phil and Rory to fill that void and both are doing an admirable job, with on and off-course exploits.  Rory has been alternately brilliant and awful since his 17th hole split with The Woz.  The course seems to set up perfectly for what Rory does well, when he’s doing it well.  Then, there’s Phil…

Phil has had an inconsistent year at best, but he’s mostly gotten a free pass because everyone knows he’s been pointing to this week.  Phil has become all about the majors in recent years and more specifically all about the majors he hasn’t won.  The career grand slam seems to be the last realistic goal that Mickelson wants to check off his list.  He’s never going to catch Tiger, so winning the U.S. Open would give him all four titles and no longer make him “that guy who finished second 6 times.”

In true Phil fashion, Mickelson added a bit of spice to the proceedings with his involvement in an insider trading investigation.  Phil had a little impromptu meeting with some FBI agents at the Memorial, who apparently wanted to know about one of Phil’s gambling buddies and some stock activity.  Mickelson claims he has no involvement, but I guess we’ll find that out soon enough.  If you asked me to construct a list of PGA players who I thought might get caught up in an insider trading scandal, Mickelson would shoot to the top of that list, but that doesn’t mean I won’t still be surprised if he’s guilty of something.  Philly Mick couldn’t handle prison, not even fancy Martha Stewart prison.

Getting back to Phil on the course, this does seem like it’s his last chance.  Right after Payne Stewart won in 1999 he was talking about how gratifying it was to take advantage of the opportunity, because he knew deep down that his chances were going to be limited.  Stewart was 42 at the time of his tragic death just months later, but he knew that his window for serious major contention was closing.  Mickelson is 43, and while equipment has made golfers effective later into their careers, with his physical ailments, family, and the crazy depth of the modern fields, you can’t feel too confident saying Phil could win his U.S. Open at 48, or 50.  It might need to happen now at a course where he should be able to work his magic and where he has some positive memories from past results.

After this year the Open goes to two new courses in three years (Erin Hills and Chambers Bay sandwiched around Oakmont), before visiting what would be a good Phil window in 2018-2020 (Shinnecock, Pebble, Winged Foot), but by then it may be too late.

I think it’s going to be a great week at Pinehurst.  This time last year we were worrying about the torrential rains ruining Merion, and that turned out to be mostly be wasted energy, but it’s nice to head into the week with no real worries about the golf course.

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top-10:

  1. Jim Furyk
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Dustin Johnson
  4. Sergio Garcia
  5. Henrik Stenson
  6. Miguel Angel Jimenez
  7. Bill Haas
  8. Jason Dufner
  9. Hideki Matsuyama
  10. Jordan Spieth

 

They’re Finally Mine.

Taylor Made Still Trying To Recapture This Glory.

Taylor Made Still Trying To Recapture This Glory.

What I guess I have to admit at this point is that it takes something huge to bring me back to the blog.  In fact, maybe it takes even more than that–a cluster of news.  We’re in the midst of a pretty big week.  There’s a little golf tournament being held in Pinehurst, NC starting Thursday, maybe you’ve heard of it?  It’s called the U.S. Open.  Also starting Thursday?  El Cupo Worldo.  It’s hard to believe that it has already been four years since an extra time goal against some random country unified the nation (for about 48 hours).  Then, we lost, and soccer was handed back to the fanatics.  But, I don’t want you to feel like I’ve lost my passion for Switzerland.  They’re back.  And, they’re dangerous.

Dwarfing these global sporting events though, was the completion of a longtime goal of mine.  I acquired a set of Taylor Made Forged 300 irons over the internet.  All they cost me was $87 (and probably some stolen credit card info).

The Taylor Made Forged 300 irons burst onto the scene during what I would call the dark ages of irons.  It was probably about 2002 and irons were frightfully boring.  I was still playing my Tommy Armours, going on about eight years at that point and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  Cast, cavity backs irons were everywhere.  It was as if the pinnacle of forgiveness had been reached and everyone was focusing on putting new and weird metals into woods.

Goldwin Driver Anyone?

Goldwin Driver Anyone?

I honestly don’t remember seeing an iron that really caught my eye.  Callaway was happily running with their x-14, x-16 family, Titleist was making very difficult to hit irons with random three digit numbers on them, Ping was still trying to recreate the Eye 2’s success…no one cared.  I worked at a golf course during this time that probably housed 350-400 sets of clubs.  I admit now that I tried out several of these drivers, but trying out an iron?  Who cared at that point.  There was exactly one set of clubs in the entire room that interested me–Snake Eyes blades.

Forged By Smith and Wesson.

Forged By Smith and Wesson.

There was a guy who couldn’t play a lick and he had a set of these 1-PW.  That’s one-iron through pitching wedge. Obviously, I had to try that 1-iron.  My memory now is that I hit complete bullets with it, but maybe that was not the case.

I saw the Forged 300s for the first time at a college golf practice.  They immediately caught my eye.  And, even though this was just before the failed blade iron experiment of 2003, maybe in my heart I knew I would never be a guy who hit blades.  These were in the neighborhood, though.  JUST AS SHINY.  That invisible top line.  Swoon.  The four-figure price tag brought me back to reality, though and they were mostly forgotten for a year or two until I ended up at another golf course, this one in possession of a set of demo Forged 300s that were left sitting around from a prehistoric fitting cart.

That was really where I fell in love, with my Tommy Armours falling apart and my MP-14s shamefully hidden in my trunk, I’d steal 10-15 balls at a time with these clubs and I loved the feel.  I finally played a set of forged clubs about 5-6 years ago, the Callaway X-Forged, but shortly after I stopped playing so much and my game went sideways.  Back to the cast.  This didn’t stop my periodic perusal of eBay for the holy grail, but in testament to the class of these sticks, the price hovered above dabbling range for a long time.

Maybe it’s the emergence of the newer, quality forged cavity backs that finally drove the 300 Forged into my price range.  If you have $1,100 I’d recommend the Callaway Apex in a heartbeat over the 300 Forged.  They don’t look as good, but they feel nice and they go nine miles.

Distance.  Perhaps this was my last hurdle as well.  I’ve always been someone who assigned a good portion of their golf identity to how far I hit my irons.  I was never the longest with the driver, especially after the ball explosion, but there weren’t many people out there that could scorch a 9-iron like I could and when I went to the forged irons in 2008 even being at the top of my game I lost probably almost a club in distance.  I was still hitting the ball plenty long enough, but psychologically I wasn’t comfortable.  Now, I’m not as long as I was when I was 25 anyway and I’m planning on starting a hybrid revolution in my bag, so maybe it’s OK if I now hit 9-iron ONLY 150.  And, those flatware looking long irons?  Gone.

I got to play my first round with these sweeties the other day.  I had them re-gripped.  In another twist of fate, the clubs were already +1/2 inch–hooray!  It was a bit of a mixed bag of results.  I found that I still hit a lot of wedges, and there was a VERY unfortunate swing with a 5-iron (buys 26 degree hybrid), but I also completely flushed two 7-irons and if we’re being honest that worth the 80 bucks.  Easily.