Here’s my mentality for golf tournaments, especially the Majors. I get overly excited before the things starts. I predict, I have my Masters pool, I think about watching the final round on Sunday. The level of anticipation is very high. When the tournament actually starts, though, I get a little impatient. Unheralded early leaders, 54 holes and three days to go, it doesn’t always satisfy the sports fan in me. Imagine if they played one quarter of the Super Bowl every day for 4 days? At this point in a big golf tournament about the only thing you can do is eliminate the guys who have shot themselves out of the thing. Martin Kaymer–poof. The leaders, though, who knows what they’ll shoot today. So, if you are a big Alvaro Quiros fan, or you want the Yanger to back up his PGA it’s a long wait. Personally, I worry that I won’t have a rooting interest come Sunday and the whole event will be ruined.
What if Rory and Charl Schwartzel are in a two-man duel down the stretch? Who the hell do I root for then? So, I’ll be scanning the field the next two days looking at scenarios, hoping to get a somewhat tolerable player in contention down the stretch. I always make compromises, though. When Kenny Perry, Chad Campbell and Angel Cabrera were fighting it out a few years back, I pretty quickly became a Cabrera fan. Right now I’m trying to think if I could talk myself into Ricky Barnes. Still going with that painter’s hat, huh Ricky? Nightmare.
Oh, look. The Braves. How Adorable.
You never know when your ability to be cocky and arrogant will disappear, so if you are a Phillies fan you might as well puff your chest out for this series with the Braves. It’s only six games in, but personally, I feel the Braves need to be put in their place a little bit. They were getting a ton of love before the season started, because apparently the experts didn’t realize that Wilson Valdez was going to be the first guy to hit .400 since Ted Williams. Obviously, I’m not being serious. This is a nice series with Atlanta, but hardly an occasion to get yourself worked into a lather. It will be a nice early season test, certainly stiffer competition than New York or Houston.
We heard a lot of praise for Atlanta’s offense in the pre-season, and if they were going to pass the Phillies, a lot of experts thought they’d out-hit them. Our small, first-week sample shows the Braves have some problems we might recognize here in Philadelphia. They aren’t hitting left-handed pitching and have scratched out less than 4 runs a game. They bring their struggling offense back to Atlanta for their home opener and a series where they’ll face Lee, Oswalt and Hamels.
Maybe you’ll remember the end of last season when the Phillies lined up their starters for the Braves series and then swept their way to a six game lead in the division and put themselves on the brink of closing it out in Washington? If the Braves are going to pass the Phillies they’ll need to get over that hump, the inability to beat someone when it matters. This series doesn’t qualify, but if you are Philadelphia, you don’t even want to give Atlanta that glimmer of hope. You want to shut them down in their home opener Friday, win the series, and leave town with a quick 3 or 4 game lead.
If you must make a big deal out of the weekend series, here’s 5 quick things to look for:
- How do the Phils fare against Atlanta’s young and capable bullpen?
- Can Howard, Rollins and company remain patient against better starting pitching?
- Familiarize yourself a little more with Brandon Beachy–Phillies killer, or more fodder?
- Cole’s state of mind. Maybe an out-of-town crowd will help him shake a bad first start.
- Eventually Jose Contreras will have to close a tight game, will it be this weekend?
I’ve talked a bit about the panic level in Philadelphia surrounding the Phillies. The alarms were sounded Tuesday night, and it took two wins to calm everyone back down a little bit. The feeling is not unique to Philadelphia. Panic abounds in MLB right now. You’ve got Boston at 0-6 and facing a home opener this afternoon against the Yankees. The prospect of starting the season 1-8, or 0-9 has to be a nightmare for Boston fans, and having NY come in when they are most vulnerable can’t feel good. The upside is, a sweep would make them the happiest 3-6 fan base of all-time. There’s some high-strung people in St. Louis as well. Tony LaRussa had a little meltdown in a press conference yesterday. I think concerns about Pujols leaving have magnified everything in once docile St. Louis. Lot of short fuses out there for April 8th, that’s all I’m saying.
MLB Underdog of the Day: Yesterday, 0-2. Financial Status to Date: (-300 American)
Well, I said in the comments section that the only way this is going to be entertaining is if I win a lot or if I lose a lot. Looks like I am headed toward epic “mush” status. And, I’m comfortable with that. It’s nice to have that hammer if I want to guarantee a team loses. Last night the Tigers blew about 9 different leads in sending me to 0-3 for the year.
Today’s Pick: Toronto (+125) over Anaheim.
I’m hitching the old wagon up to Roy Halladay trade bait tonight. Give me Kyle Drabek, my rookie of the year pick and already off to a pretty brilliant 1-0 start this season. The Angels stink, they can’t hit, this should get me off the donut. Or not.
Quiz of the Day: TV Theme Song Challenge. Category: Syndication Rocks. My Score: 32/37.
You have to listen to music for this one, so I figured it would be a good one to post going into the weekend. I’m a little horrified at how high my score is. That’s the honest truth.