Monthly Archives: May 2016

Heir Jordan

We have learned over the past 2 months that Jordan Spieth is human.

What a relief.

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His 18th place finish at the Byron Nelson, followed by his final round defeat at the Masters have the media asking what is wrong with him. Speculation centers around what the media calls his “collapse” at Augusta, creating emotional fragility that has led to his less than stellar play of late. Can we just give the kid a break?

Why is it that we demand our up-and-coming athletes be “the next _______” (Tiger, Michael, Emmitt Smith, you fill in the blank). Perhaps our desire to elevate people to hero status, or proclaim them as “the greatest” is due in part to the dichotomy that exists in our post-modern culture that minimizes the thought of God, yet desperately seeks someone to worship.

Why can’t we just enjoy the performances and appreciate the athletic gifting? I mean, do we really want or need another Tiger Woods?

From all appearances, Spieth is a good human being, who respects people, is kind and generous, gracious to the media, and loves his family. A model to be admired? Yes. A talent to be appreciated? Absolutely. A player to root for? Of course. An idol to be worshiped? Even Spieth would say he is uncomfortable with that.

He’s 22 for crying out loud. Maybe we can be satisfied with watching him play for the next 15 years and just enjoy the ride.

 

K is for Kershaw

Is Clayton Kershaw the best pitcher of this generation? He’s certainly making a pretty good case.

On Thursday night the Dodgers left-hander tossed his second consecutive shutout and struck out 13 in becoming the first pitcher in the modern era to string together 5 consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts and 1 or fewer walks. Let that settle in. No one since 1900 has done that. And no pitcher has exhibited such a combination of power and control. For the season, Kershaw now has 77 strikeouts and FOUR walks – a 19 to 1 ratio. The best ever ratio for a full season is 11 to 1. Extrapolated over a full season, Kershaw would end up with a mind-numbing 308 strikeouts versus 16 walks.

With 3 Cy Young Awards, an MVP award, and 4 ERA titles already under his belt, he is already in rare territory. His career ERA is 2.40, the best among active players by over half a run (Madison Bumgarner is 2nd at 3.02). He is now 119 and 57 over his seven and a half seasons. His winning percentage is first among all active pitchers and is 8th all time. For six straight seasons now, he has dominated the National League. His run is reminiscent of that of Sandy Koufax’s 4-year stretch from 1963-66, which is still the greatest in modern baseball history. But it’s time for Kershaw’s name to be included in the conversation about pitchers who may end up among the best the game has seen.

It was a great week for pitchers other than Kershaw, as well. Max Scherzer tied the MLB record for K’s in a 9 inning game with 20. And Noah Syndergaard of the Mets blasted two homers in his win over the Dodgers the night before Kershaw took the mound.

Every era has their greats. In the ’60’s it was Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale, and Marichal. The ’70’s had Seaver, Carlton, Palmer and Ryan. We seem to be in another era of dominant pitchers with Arrieta, Hernandez, and the like, but to me Kershaw is clearly at the top.

What do you think?

It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a great guy, committed to making the lives of others better. Check it out: http://www.kershawschallenge.com/

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Steph Stuff

Rather than a big red “S” on his chest, Superman wears number 30. Or so it seems.

What more can be said about the NBA’s best player after the last 24 hours? Last night, Steph Curry came back from two weeks off with a sprained MCL, to torch the Portland Trailblazers — and the NBA record book, again — in a 132-125 overtime playoff win.

He shook off the rust from the layoff by the second half, and by overtime he was simply on fire, scoring 17 points in the extra period – something no one in the history of the game had ever done in either the playoffs or regular season. After starting by missing his first 9 shots from 3-point range, he finished 16 of 32 from the floor. He was simply ridiculous.

And today, last season’s MVP winner was announced as a unanimous selection for the same honor this year — something else no one had ever done. Think about it: Mikan, Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Michael, Kobe, Lebron. Not one of them had ever been the unanimous MVP.

In a note that may have gone unnoticed by many last week, Steph came in 4th in the voting for the league’s Most Improved Player. Think about that for a moment. The reigning league MVP nearly wins the MIP. He was the only player ever to average 30 points per game when playing less than 35 minutes per game. He became 1 of 3 players in history to shoot 50% from the field, 45% from three, and 90% from the free throw line, and the other two did not have nearly as many attempts.

He got better!

Which is why he was the unanimous choice for MVP. And why he lit up Portland last night on one and a half good legs. He’s changing the game… and having fun doing it. Which is also why we should keep watching.

It’s not every day we get the chance to witness greatness like this. Actually, this season it is.

http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/15492948/the-numbers-steph-curry-incredible-mvp-season

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Big Hit

Last night, baseball witnessed it’s version of Halley’s Comet.

New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon hit his first career home run, at age 42.  He turned on a James Shields fastball and deposited it over the left field wall, to become the oldest player in history to hit his first career home run, just 3 weeks shy of turning 43.  Coming into the game, the round mound of the mound sported a microscopic .089 lifetime batting average over his 19 seasons.

He surpassed Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, whose first homer came at age 40. He’s only the third Met to homer after turning 40, joining Willie Mays and Julio Franco, baseball’s Methuselah who was 48 when he homered.

Said Colon, “I don’t even know how to explain it.”

Mets’ play-by-play man told the television audience, “The impossible has happened!”

When asked about it, opposing San Diego Padres’ manager, said, “Certain things leave you speechless.”

The crowd went nuts, then watched the portly pitcher take 30-seconds to haul his 283 pounds (or so he is generously listed) around the bases.

The entire scene was definitely one for the ages.

http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/news/bartolo-colon-home-run-video-mets-new-york-padres-petco-park/11ffmoasde0wc15jrokmw04m0l

 

Rare Arr-ieta

With the eyes of the sports world on the NFL Draft on Thursday, few paid attention to Jake Arrieta’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers. It was his 16th straight. After tossing a no-hitter in his previous start, this one seemed to draw a collective yawn. He gave up 1 run in 5 innings. Such are the expectations that Arrieta have produced.jake

The reigning N.L. Cy Young winner has had what is now one of the most remarkable pitching stretches in history. Since June 21 of last year, Arrieta has made 25 starts. He is 21-1 with an 0.88 ERA, giving up just 18 earned runs during that stretch. In 183 innings, he has allowed 94 hits. He’s also thrown 2 no-hitters – something just 31 other pitchers in history have done. Only Bob Gibson’s performance in 1968 when he posted a 1.12 ERA compares with Arrieta’s run during the last 100 years.

While hitters today are less discerning and swing at more offerings out of the strike zone, and there are more of them due to the number of teams, none of that takes away from what the Cubs right-hander has done. All this from a guy that the Baltimore Orioles gave up on after he had gone 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 4 seasons.

So appreciate it for what it is. We are witnessing one of the truly great performances in the history of the game.