I missed Seve’s prime on the golf course. And, since he was a Spaniard, who didn’t have overwhelming successes in the States, his triumphs were not rehashed with the vigor of Jack’s or even Tom Watson’s. What I knew of Seve was mostly his Ryder Cup record, which was extraordinary, and because of that success I was never anything close to a Seve fan. A brain tumor left Seve suddenly ill a couple of years ago and hastened his retreat into a very private lifestyle. Seve never got the opportunity to soften his competitive edges, along the lines of say, a Nick Faldo. Until the day he died he was still the guy who would have done absolutely anything to win and that included the good and the bad. The real proof of who Seve was lies in the universal praise and admiration he received from professional golfers across 3 or 4 generations. Everyone from Sergio to Jack Nicklaus spoke genuinely of their fondness for Ballesteros. I don’t think you can ask for much more in life than being held in high regard by your peers, and by that measure it appears that Seve was one of the greatest players golf has ever known.
On the actual golf course this weekend, a very good finish to the Wells Fargo event at Quail Hollow was momentarily interrupted by another rules fiasco. In my opinion the rules of golf are becoming a burden on the game, especially when the PGA Tour allows them to be enforced by anyone at all who happens to see the tournament. The issue Sunday was a spectator (or a marshal, I’ve heard both) believed they saw Paddy Harrington tee up in front of the markers on the 13th hole. They didn’t say anything until after the round when the penalty would have been disqualification. Not only did the rules officials listen to the case, they then went back out on the course and went through the surreal exercise of trying to find Harrington’s divot on the tee amongst the 70 or 80 players that had been through that day. It was some of the most ridiculous television I’ve seen in my life, and keep in mind they are showing this while the leaders are coming down the closing stretch of holes.
Harrington, thankfully, was not penalized, but the PGA Tour has to put a stop to the everyone’s a rules official campaign. Whether it be people watching on TV, or members of the gallery, they do not have the responsibility to police the game. You wouldn’t see a fan at a baseball game showing an umpire a video of a call he missed, and you certainly wouldn’t see the umpire reverse the call. That’s essentially what we have here. The Tour says they like that they have people who watch things so closely from home (and they are contemplating less severe penalties–mostly getting rid of the DQ), but they have such a tenuous hold on a fan base that I think they are afraid of losing anyone. They should be firm on this. The rules geeks will get over it. The players police themselves, the rules officials are there for clarity and to settle disputes. Everyone else is a spectator–that implies you don’t have a hand in the outcome.
So, the Lakers. That was like 5 cautionary tales wrapped up in one, no? Fleeting dynasties, aging legs, team chemistry, it was all on display as the Mavericks just dismantled LA in four straight games. The game four blowout for the sweep is a staple of the NBA and NHL playoffs, but you didn’t see it happening to the Lakers. They were being picked to win the title as recently as last week. Does this result exonerate the referees? I imagine not even the most ambitious of whistles could have changed the course of this one. And, a pretty sour note for Phil Jackson to end his career on. The ejections, the lack of effort, the inability to get the series back to LA, it was everything that Phil Jackson teams have not been. Do you think he’s really done coaching? He’s not going to pop in NY, is he? Or maybe he should go back to Chicago now that they are good again? Jackson had a great career, but I’m ok with the term, “Zen,” being removed from the NBA lexicon for good.
Is that about it? I told you about the no-hitters. Get ready for more this year. No one is hitting. Phils drop a series to the Braves thanks to a pitiful performance with guys on base Sunday night. It happens. Maybe the good sign is that they hit Jurrgens a little better than they have in the past, and actually had several chances to win the game, instead of just getting blanked. They open in Florida tonight, and could use 2 of 3. The swing game could be tomorrow night when Halladay faces Johnson. Someone do some research on the lowest over/under of all-time in a baseball game. Could we see 5.5? Vegas might turn it into a slug fest just with their Vegas-y tricks. But, the biggest thing I take from this weekend is the Phillies need to get their people back. Utley, Ruiz, Oswalt, Contreras, Lidge…that’s 1/5 of the roster and doesn’t even account for Heavy B or possibly Domonic Brown if they eventually want to give him a shot.