I was going to kick off the picks with some comments about the downtrodden Bill Simmons, famously poor NFL tout, who is now suspended from ESPN and all other aspects of his life for the next three weeks. Where will Simmons make his picks?
But, the Ryder Cup has me furious. As I get older I care less about a lot of sporting events. I remember watching NBA regular season action when I was kid–true story. I used to watch highlights of NFL games I had no rooting (fantasy or otherwise) interest in–but times change. I guess I just don’t want it enough anymore, but I still care very deeply about the Ryder Cup. Regardless of who is suiting up for the U.S. Team, I’m going to be closely following the action. I think this is probably because it’s only every two years, the format is a bit of an oddity for golf, and the US consistently gets crushed by the Euros, who I hate–on principle.
I missed they Ryder Cup glory years when we were coasting to wins for about five straight decades. If you’re honest, in major sports, rooting for the U.S. does not give you much of a chance to get with an underdog. Are we counting tennis? We certainly are NOT. Even the regular PGA Tour doesn’t count, because Americans do just fine and win majors, etc. But, when the Ryder Cup starts, we buckle, and the Euros make everything they look at. This leaves the US team with a full two wins in the event since 1999, the first of which was a stone miracle. I’m so tired of the LOSING.
Apparently, the PGA was tired as well and that’s why they tabbed Tom Watson, fabled linksman, and respected Hall of Famer to lead the squad this time around. I would have chosen Fred, but hey, what do I know? Tom is known for his fire, the respect he commands, and being the last captain to win in Europe. That was Nineteen hundred and ninety three. Ouch.
Watson was a fine choice for me, certainly a preferred option to Mark O’Meara or someone awful like that. The guy has been hitting it stupidly pure for decades and had he won the ’09 Open Championship, it probably would have been the greatest achievement I’ve ever seen on television. So, OK, Watson, I can overlook the fact that he’s out of touch with current players and has a bit of egoism about him–who doesn’t?
What bothers me about all U.S. golf captains is that they have almost no creativity. If you played DECENT with a guy four years ago? Well, that’s your partner. So, we still get stuck with Simpson/Watson, which I think now dates back to the 2011 Presidents Cup. That’s great, except Webb Simpson is currently awful and should be ironing the team pants until Sunday.
This was an inevitable mistake, though, and everyone has to play a bit, so I can live with that in the morning where the U.S. stole the session and Spieth and Reed delivered a methodical beatdown of Ian Poulter and IT DOESN’T MATTER who his partner was–Poulter is the worst.
An aside on Reid and Spieth. Spieth seems very quietly cocky, the type of assuredness that comes with being a prodigy, I would imagine. In his press conference after the round, Spieth commented about a lack of battle scars, which is important in this event. For guys like Jim Furyk, a good Ryder Cup memory is something along the lines of not getting food poisoning, or that SWEET halve he got one year. Anyway, Spieth’s confidence is dwarfed by the ego of Patrick Reed, which has it’s own seat on the plane and hopefully (by now) a Twitter account.
For those who don’t know, Reed has the type of match play pedigree that almost no one on the American team has, granted it’s not on the professional level. Reed led Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA championships after the NCAA went to match play, made a US Amateur semifinal, and generally seems like he’d be the most annoying person in the world to play against. This is what the U.S. team needs.
Reed and Spieth who looked like they might never make a par, ran Poulter’s shabby game off the course and of course they were rewarded by Captain Watson with a seat on the bench for the afternoon. You gotta get Furyk his reps, and it’s important to run Phil Mickelson into the ground as well. Mickelson looks like a grey-faced retriever who has been trying to keep up with a new puppy all day. He’s 44, Reed and Spieth are 45 combined. It’s clear Watson had it in his mind he was going with certain pairings and paid no attention to the morning outcomes.
His explanation–about the benching–contained no explanation. He basically said, “Yep, probably going to get second guessed on that one.” The problem is, the US team has no room for error. They’re down Tiger, and Mr. Gretzky, and Duff. They bypassed the hottest golfers on Tour for guys like Webb, so they can’t afford to get skunked in sessions like they did Friday afternoon.
Now Reed and Spieth could have gone out and lost, and lost all that good feeling from this morning, but shouldn’t they have been given the chance? It couldn’t have been much worse, right? Mickelson’s own coach is saying on the broadcast he should have been rested. You don’t want to overstate the value of a captain in these things (unless it’s Fred), but come on Tom, get your head out of your ass.
Big Dub, 4-6
- New York (+3.5) over Washington–WINNER
- Chicago (+1.5) over Green Bay
- Indianapolis (-7.5) over Tennessee
- Baltimore (-3.5) over Carolina
- San Francisco (-4.5) over Philadelphia
- Green Bay (-1.5) over Chicago
- Detroit (-1.5) over New York
- Pittsburgh (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
- Atlanta (-3) over Minnesota
- New England (-3.5) over Kansas City
Green Bay( (-1.5) over Chicago. This is the game I feel most comfortable with, because the Packers have looked terrible and yet are still favored to beat Chicago, who while not exactly looking like their ’85 incarnation, appear at least competent. More than most NFL teams can say. I’ll either look smart, or we’ll say, WOW, Green Bay really is bad. Could go either way.
Pittsburgh (-7.5) over Tampa Bay. Do the Steelers have one good player? Yes. That should be more than enough to throttle Tampa at home. The thing is, the Bucs could come out spirited, play much better than last week and still lose by 3 TDs. I was really looking forward to the Steelers being awful, but we’re going to have to wait until after this week.
San Francisco (-4.5) over Philadelphia. The Niners absolutely have to have this one. The Eagles are making the trip with a patchwork offensive line. I don’t see McCoy getting it going and since the Eagles don’t really stop anyone–I think their comeback heroics take a week off.
Atlanta (-3) over Minnesota. The Falcons have looked pretty good with the exception of the Bengals game, but Cincy has made a few teams look bad. The Vikings are much worse than Cincy, so I wouldn’t make any grand leaps about Atlanta’s inability as a road team YET.
Kansas City (+3.5) over New England. Tom Brady is killing fantasy seasons. Guy is sneaky old, but it’s probably not his fault as the the Pats have essentially surrounded him with the Jags (only older) at this point. Trash o-line, trash wideouts, the revolving door of RB mediocrity. You gonna let Tommy go out like this? If they lose in KC, push the panic button, could be a horse race with the Bills for the division.