Sports Round-Up: Tiger at The Open, Brewers Fans Embarrass Themselves, NFL Controversy That Won't Go Away
by Julian Spivey
Tiger Takes Sunday Lead & Molinari Plays Perfect Golf
Man was it good to see Tiger Woods soar to the top of the leaderboard during the final round of The British Open at Carnoustie on Sunday morning. It felt like the old days, the glory days. It felt like he was going to come through and win his first major tournament in more than a decade. Then he double bogeyed the 11th hole and it all immediately seemed over with the perfect game Francesco Molinari, playing along with Tiger on Sunday, was playing. You just sensed that Molinari, even after only 11 holes, was going to par his way to victory and he pretty much did – with two birdies thrown in for good measure. Molinari is the hottest golfer on the planet right now winning three of his last six tournaments, with two runner-up positions thrown in the mix. It’s nice to see him at the top of his game as a 35-year old, after he and his brother Edoardo both came upon the scene around 2010 and seemed like they’d be the next big names in European golf without either really entering the upper-echelon. But, now it’s Francesco’s time and he will always have the honor of being Italy’s first major golf champion.
NFL Controversy That Won't Die
We are heading into the third NFL season in which it seems the biggest story of the season is yet again going to be the National Anthem and athletes protesting brutality against African-Americans, which has become one of the nation’s biggest debates and a hot topic for President Donald Trump. It’s a topic that the NFL should’ve squashed immediately in backing its player for having opinions and expressing them. But, instead the league cowered down to the President and its right-wing fans and made the whole ordeal a much bigger mess than it ever should’ve been. That mess became a major story again last week when the Miami Dolphins franchise announced plans to suspend any players protesting during the National Anthem for four games (one-fourth of the season). The NFL and the NFL Players Association quickly tabled any punishment when it comes to players protesting on the fields, which is where I hope the story ends. When it comes to an organization threatening to suspend players for one-fourth of the season for having opinions and showing them when the NFL has only suspended players who’ve physically or abused their spouses or girlfriends for lesser time you know the league is officially out of control.
Brewers Fans Embarrass Themselves
During last week’s Major League Baseball All Star game the big story toward the end of the game wasn’t the close competition that saw an extra innings finish or the record-breaking number of home runs hit during the game, but rather some seven year old tweets dug up from the annals of Twitter from Milwaukee Brewers All Star reliever Josh Hader that exposed viewpoints of racism, homophobia and misogyny. They were the disturbing thoughts and bad jokes of a 17-year old high schooler at the time who forgot to scrub his idiocy before becoming a baseball superstar. Baseball didn’t exactly punish Hader in the way that I would’ve liked choosing not to suspend him, but rather make him go to sensitivity training. It was at least an understandable form of punishment with the sport not wanting to suspend an adult for mistakes made as a teen, though I will say that what most believe at 17 they likely still will at 24. The most disturbing part of the Hader story was when he made his second-half debut on Saturday night at his home ballpark in Milwaukee and received a standing ovation from a mostly white Brewers crowd. This is not a good look for Major League Baseball, it’s not a good look for the Brewers fan base and it’s not a good look for the city of Milwaukee. It makes it seem like the fans are condoning racism, homophobia and misogyny and that’s not something we need in baseball.
Tim Tebow Injury Keeps Mets From Publicity Stunt
I hate to wish injury on any athlete, but New York Mets Double-A minor league attraction Tim Tebow breaking his hamate bone in his right hand over the weekend and likely being out for the remainder of the season is at least somewhat good news for baseball traditionalists. If you’re a hardcore baseball fan like me, you want to see players make it to the major leagues on merit and not superstardom and celebrity gained somewhere other than on the baseball diamond. You want this because you know just how hard it is to make “The Show” and you’d hate to see someone truly deserving passed over for what amounts to a publicity stunt. That’s exactly what it seemed the Mets, well out of playoff contention, were going to do in September with minor league call-ups. It seemed set that Tebow would make his major league debut for nothing more than to drive late season ticket sales for a struggling baseball team. That would’ve been the Mets prerogative, but as someone who wants to see the game played the right way it just wouldn’t have sat right with me. Tebow’s injury takes away any chance of that happening.
NASCAR Has a 'Big 3' and Nobody Else Stands a Chance
It’s been quite the unusual NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series with three drivers dominating the sport in a manner we haven’t seen in quite some time. Kevin Harvick (6 wins), Kyle Busch (5 wins) and Martin Truex Jr. (4 wins) have combined to win 15 of the series’ 20 races this season leaving many complaining about a lack of parity in the sport. I must admit I’d like to see some of the other superstars within NASCAR win a bit this season, but the longer this dominance by Harvick, Busch and Truex goes on the more impressive and interesting it gets. And, let’s be honest if you’re not a fan of one of these three drivers this season could seem incredibly boring (and unfortunately a good number of the races have been – but not as of late), but regardless it’s going to be a fun final few months of the NASCAR season to see just how many races these guys can win and watch the playoff battle between the three of them go down to the wire.
by Julian Spivey
Every year when the Major League Baseball All Star rosters are picked there are going to be a handful of snubs. That’s just the way it goes in a sport featuring 750 players on any given day and only round 60 all star spots. However, every year there seems to be a few egregious snubs and I’ve selected nine changes I would make if I could to the All Star rosters that were announced on Sunday.
Blake Snell (Rays) for Jose Berrios (Twins)
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell leads the American League in Earned Run Average, which should be an automatic selection for any All Star team regardless of other stats, but Snell is also second in the A.L. with 12 wins. He should’ve been a no-brainer, but due to every team most have a representative in the All Star game rule (which I like) he gets snubbed in favorite of Jose Berrios of the Twins who almost a run and a half worse ERA, fewer strikeouts and a much worse winning percentage.
Eddie Rosario (Twins) for George Springer (Astros)
Part of the reason why Snell got snubbed by the A.L. All Star roster is because the players made the egregious selection of Houston Astros outfielder George Springer, who’s only hitting .251 this year, when Minnesota Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario would’ve been a much better pick with a .300 average, more hits, homers, RBI and a better WAR (Wins Above Replacement). If Rosario were the Twins representative, as he should’ve been, there would’ve been no need for the Berrios selection. Rosario is part of the A.L.’s Final Vote nominees and hopefully will get into the All Star game that way. That selection will be announced on Wednesday afternoon (July 11).
Jed Lowrie (A’s) for Gleyber Torres (Yankees)
The players vote screwed this one up too giving New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres the reserve two-bagger spot in the Midsummer Classic when Oakland A’s veteran Jed Lowrie, who’s never made an All Star squad, has nearly 40 more hits, 20 more RBI and a WAR more than a point higher.
Nick Castellanos (Tigers) for Michael Brantley (Indians)
Michael Brantley is a good story coming back after playing in only about 100 games over the last two seasons (though he was an All Star last year before he got hurt) and the players voted him into the game as a reserve outfielder. But, Detroit Tigers outfielder Nick Castellanos would’ve been a better pick with a WAR more than a point higher, more homers, RBI, hits and a higher on-base percentage. Castellanos also would’ve ensured that the commissioner’s office would’ve have to name reliever Joe Jimenez as the Tigers representative allowing for a more deserving pitcher making the team.
Collin McHugh (Astros) for Joe Jimenez (Tigers)
If Nick Castellanos was the Detroit Tigers All Star representative, as he should’ve been, then maybe Houston Astros reliever Collin McHugh, who’s having a far superior year to Jimenez with an ERA more than two runs lower.
Jesus Aguilar (Brewers) for Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)
There was no player in baseball I felt worse for on Sunday when the All Star game rosters were announced than Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who’s having an MVP-like season through the first half. In his second full MLB season Aguilar has become the slugger the N.L. leading Brewers need with a league high 23 homers, 64 RBI and a .305 average. He is part of the N.L.’s Final Five vote and hopefully makes the team, but he should’ve been there already and likely as the designated hitter in the starting lineup. Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters since May but had an incredibly slow start to the season. Goldschmidt has fewer homers, more than 10 fewer RBI and an average 15 points behind Aguilar and yet got the players’ vote over him.
Ross Stripling (Dodgers) for Patrick Corbin (Diamondbacks)
This one isn’t the biggest of deals, but Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling does have an ERA almost a full run lower than Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin. Stripling also has a better winning percentage this year. Corbin has more strikeouts than Stripling, but Stripling didn’t begin the year in the Dodgers rotation. He’s certainly helped to keep them afloat though.
David Peralta (Diamondbacks) for Bryce Harper (Nationals)
I’ve taken both Arizona Diamondbacks All Star representatives out of the game and by rule they must have a rep, so I’m giving that spot to outfielder David Peralta who’s hitting .291 with 15 homers and 49 RBI. He’s going to replace Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who was the only one of 17 selections made by the voting fans of Major League Baseball that was bad – yes, the fans did a better job at picking All Stars this year than the actual players. I understand it’s important to have one of the game’s biggest names at the All Star game, especially with it being played in his home ballpark this season, but his numbers just aren’t up to his standards.
Albert Almora (Cubs) for Charlie Blackmon (Rockies)
Charlie Blackmon was a National League MVP finalist last season and I believe the players voting for N.L. reserves remembered that more than researching his numbers this year because he’s not near the same guy he was. Blackmon has a negative WAR this season meaning a replacement player would likely put up better numbers than he has. He takes a spot that could be better served going to a first timer like Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, who’s hitting .323 this season. If you don’t like Almora in his place how about Pittsburgh Pirates Corey Dickerson or Philadelphia Phillies Odubel Herrera?
by Julian Spivey
If you heard a collective groan on Monday afternoon from NBA fans all around the world it’s because free agent center DeMarcus Cousins, arguably the second-best center in the NBA behind his former New Orleans Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis, signed a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the two-time reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
The deal in which Cousins took considerably less money than what he could’ve gotten to win a championship with the Warriors makes the best team in the NBA even better and gives the team an All Star player at every starting position and has led to discussions of whether it’ll be the greatest starting five in NBA history.
I understand why NBA fans everywhere are pissed. The best thing for any sport is parity and the NBA doesn’t have that right now. The NBA doesn’t even seem to have a team in the same stratosphere as the Warriors after this deal with the team being the overwhelming favorite to win a third consecutive NBA title and its fourth in five years. It’s not good for a sport to essentially have its next championship locked up less than a month after its last one ended. Of course, the games still must be played, and anything can happen, but that’s the way it seems right now.
It’s doubly irritating for fans of the league who were hoping this offseason’s free agent crop including LeBron James could jump start some action into the league with him going to a location like the Houston Rockets, who damn near beat the Warriors without LeBron, or the Philadelphia 76ers. Instead LeBron chose the Los Angeles Lakers, which sparked renewed interest in the game’s most popular franchise, but there wasn’t too much else the team could do financially to build a team that could compete with the Warriors. LeBron to the Lakers seems like a move that might take two years to pan out.
I can certainly understand fans of the game being upset about the lack of competition in the game, but what do you really expect the NBA to do about it? The Warriors have built their championship team the right way, no matter what some might think. The original three stars on the team: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all came out of the NBA Draft and none of them were even top five picks. Green, in fact, wasn’t even a first round pick. The additions of Kevin Durant two offseasons ago and Cousins today are just the team playing by free agency and salary cap rules, but the way some fans are reacting to the creation of this “superteam” you would think the team was doing something illegal. Some people even want the NBA to step in, but the NBA simply can’t dictate where players go via free agency. If players like Cousins are selflessly willing to play for less in pursuit of a championship there isn’t much that can be done. So, if you don’t want to watch I completely understand, but the whining is pointless. If other teams want to stop the Warriors they’re simply going to have to get better on the court and better in the front office. Something that should truly concern NBA fans is the lack of trying for a player of Cousins’ stature via free agency. Free agency began at midnight on July 1 and up until the moment he signed his deal with the Warriors he hadn’t been contacted by a single other team in the league, according to ESPN’s Marc Spears. If your phone isn’t ringing and suddenly, the reigning champs come calling you might jump at that chance too.