Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A compromise for the 'belly putter'

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Golf's "belly putter" discussion is getting out of hand, especially when current users are being called "cheaters."

The United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club announced in November they were planning to prohibit players from using "belly putters" because they are pressed against the body (chest or stomach) for stability. The USGA said it would allow 90 days for comments before putting the ban into effect for 2016.

The PGA Tour recently announced it was against the ban because there was no evidence "belly putters" offered an advantage.

Speaking before this week's Honda Classic, Keegan Bradley said he resents being called "a cheater" for using a "belly putter."

But Bradley is not a cheater, at least not yet -- the "belly putter" currently is allowed.

"Belly putter" opponents, however,  are correct when they say every golf club should be used in a swing, with no anchoring involved.

The solution?

Since the USGA and R&A waited too long to make a decision on the long putters, all golfers currently playing on professional tours and/or USGA and R&A sanctioned events should be allowed to continue putting the way they have.

Going forward, "belly putters" should be banned entirely for pros and competitive amateurs.

If weekend hackers want to use "belly putters," fine. After all, some of them ... us? ...  regularly take a few extra Mulligans or kick a ball to a better lie. For those players, the game should be fun.

For the pros and competitive amateurs, fairly or unfairly, it’s up to them to maintain the integrity of the sport.

Of course, I'm also against football quarterbacks and receivers wearing gloves. But that's for another blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

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Item: Marlins trade Reyes, Johnson, Buerhle, Bonifacio, Buck to Toronto

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria says the trade is not a fire sale.

Many South Florida fans are angry they’ve been lied to.

A couple of things …

Loria was not the owner when the ’97 World Championship team was dismantled. Not exonerating him, just stating fact.

The Marlins-Jays trade ultimately could be a wash or even a Miami positive when it's examined a few years down the road.

But …

Loria and team president David Samson found a group of politicians who agreed to publicly fund a new stadium in Miami.

The Marlins also have benefitted financially from MLB’s revenue sharing.

So, when Loria & Co. threw around money last winter, optimistic Marlins fans believed the small-market mentality was gone for good. Ha.

Skeptics – even those, like me, who hoped things had changed – knew the team’s dysfunctional track record (owner involvement, management obsession with controlling every message) remained prevalent.

The big spending lasted one year. Sure, the season produced an embarrassing last-place finish, but it didn't warrant a 180.

At worst, Loria and Samson are greedy liars. At best, they are arrogant, ignorant and clueless.

Either way, the Marlins fan base has a right to be livid.

Item: Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame all undefeated 

Just a few weeks remain in the 2012 season, but as the saying goes, there’s still a lot of football yet to be played.

All three unbeaten teams have at least one game in which it wouldn’t be a total shock they lost.

Notre Dame losing at Southern Cal would be the least-surprising "upset." I think Oregon and Kansas State will sail through to the BCS game.  

I’ve said for years, any major college team that goes unbeaten has a right to claim a share of the national championship. I buy into the notion a team only can beat the opponents on its schedule.

No system is perfect. The BCS game is better than we had previously, and future changes should limit the griping by title also-rans even more.

I also understand that in some years, the national champion isn’t always the best team.

Just like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which decides a winner. That’s different than determining the country’s best.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Today's Topic: Girardi & A-Rod

A manager pinch hits for a right-handed batter hitting .083 in the series for a lefty swinger and the move is being called "gutsy," "ballsy" … "took a lot of courage."


The only reason such praise is being heaped on Yankees manager Joe Girardi this morning are:
  • The move to pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez risked pissing off A-Rod.
  •  If pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez didn't contribute to a rally, Girardi would haven been raked  over by the media. (Ibanez, of course, did more than contribute. He hit tying and game-winning HRs in a 3-2 victory against Baltimore in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.)

Fact is, the word that best describes Girardi’s move is this: smart.

Girardi wasn’t risking losing A-Rod -- the star has been lost for a while.  He was 1-for-12 with 7 Ks in the series when Ibanez hit for him.

Rodriguez might prove to be a very productive player for a couple more years, but his annual enhanced stats are a thing of the past.

To his credit, A-Rod said all the right things after the game, how he loves Girardi and it's all about the team. But you know his pride took a hit.

In Ibanez, Girardi had a guy who already had produced big hits in recent weeks.  He hit a two-run homer in the 13th during an eventual 14th-inning win against Oakland on Sept. 22;  and a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth during a 4-3 win in 12 innings vs. Boston on Oct. 2.

Girardi's decision to pinch hit for A-Rod wasn't courageous. It was smart.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Today's Topics: Melky, Cam

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San Francisco Giants OF Melky Cabrera, serving a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test, has disqualified himself from the National League batting race.

Cabrera's .346 average this season currently leads the league.

While it's hard to refuse Cabrera's gesture, a player should not be able to remove himself from contending for an individual honor. The league or Commissioner's office should have the guts to make such a call.

As stated here in the previous post – a player who tests positive for an illegal drug should have his statistics erased for the year in which he tested positive. 

If a player does not test positive, no matter what rumors or beliefs exist, that player's stats should remain official.

Superman turns into Clark Kent

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton clearly needs to grow up.

With his team trailing the N.Y. Giants 23-0, Newton scored a TD with 6:25 left in the third quarter. He then stood in the end zone and imitated Clark Kent ripping his shirt to display the Superman logo.

Lesson No 1: When you and your team are getting your asses whipped, nobody's going to believe you have anything in common with Superman.

During and after the 36-7 loss -- in which he threw 3 INTs -- Newton displayed total dejection. 

In fact, receiver Steve Smith criticized Newton for his demeanor.

During his postgame media conference, Newton said the Giants had nothing to do with Carolina losing -- it was all lack of execution by the Panthers.

Lesson No. 2: Winning NFL quarterbacks stand tall in victory and defeat. They don't blame teammates (are you listening Jay Cutler?) and they don't act like a First Grader who had his lunch stolen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today's Topics: Melky, Skins' Morgan, Oregon HS star, Jays' Escobar

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So Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, currently serving a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test, could win this season's NL batting title with a .346 average.

Commissioner Bud Selig says MLB likely won’t interfere because “once you get into that, it would never stop.”

Here’s how you do it, Bud. If a player tests positive during a season, his statistics for that season get erased. Period.

Such a penalty might actually curb the use of enhancement drugs in MLB. 

There are some players, despite never having tested positive, who have been grouped with drug users. Those players' stats should not be affected.

Doesn’t seem right? Hey, life isn’t always fair. 

Besides, people such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, etc., might not have tested positive but they still must live with many people convinced they used illegal enhancements. 

Some Redskins fans are Twits

Joshua Morgan’s boneheaded actions on Sunday didn't inspire comment here. After all, was it really news a player committed a stupid, selfish act and hurt his team?

If you missed it, the Redskins receiver was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on Washington’s final drive during a 31-28 loss to St. Louis. The costly penalty hurt the Skins' chances of at least attempting a game-winning field goal.

But now, Morgan should be commended for how he has dealt with fans' reactions, such as death threats expressed on Twitter. Sick.

Morgan said the threats have motivated him to stay focused. He also planned to keep active his Twitter account.

“The only thing I take seriously is football and my family, and nothing really scares me,” Morgan said.

High school hijinks

Upon first learning that Oregon high school star Thomas Tyner rushed for 644 yards and scored 10 TDs in a game last weekend, I was embarrassed … for Tyner and his coach.

Allowing one player to compile such numbers in a high school game is a joke, though the opposition probably doesn't agree. And those numbers go beyond the ol', "If the defense doesn't want to be embarrassed, it should have stopped him." Please.

It wasn’t like Tyner needed the publicity. The Aloha HS star is one of the country’s top running back recruits and has verbally committed to Oregon.

Then I focused on the final score: Aloha 84, Lakeridge 63.

Does anybody play defense in Oregon? Lakeridge at least should have tried a box-and-1.

Then again, maybe Oregon High School football plays 7-on-7?

Or perhaps, as a Canada neighbor, Oregonians use a CFL-sized field?

NHL -- No Hockey Long-term

Prediction: Either the 2012-13 hockey season begins with the Winter Classic, or the entire season will be lost.

Black eye for Jays' Escobar

Blue Jays shortsop Yunel Escobar was given a three-game suspension for displaying a gay slur on his eye-black during a recent game.

Escobar and Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, among others, said the derogatory word Escobar displayed often is expressed in a joking manner among some Spanish-speaking people.

Even if that's true, Escobar certainly needed to take responsibility. But there's a bigger issue.

MLB and the teams need to do a better job educating Latin American ballplayers about U.S./Canada cultures and customs. The league also should demand players learn some English and speak it publicly.

Many Latino players understand, even speak, English but choose not to. One reason is they fear being misunderstood. Other reasons include laziness, selfishness and choosing to be uncooperative.

Nobody's saying Latino ballplayers should become orators. They simply should exhibit an understanding that they know where they are living the American dream.
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