BLOG: Quite A Sports Week
By: Bill Campbell
This is one of those multiple choice weeks when so many people and topics are worthy of comment. Broadcasters don’t usually face the problem of choosing a subject until they decide to put their thoughts on paper. I’ve always admired how my favorite columnists make those decisions, which can be challenging.
Do I write about the Phillies continuing to win and are more than half-way to a 100 victory season?
Or do I record what the touring golf pros did to Aronomink in the third round of the AT&T National?
Most of those golfers weren’t supposed to be first string pros. Players with unfamiliar names like Cameron Tringale and Kevin Stadler tied the course record of six-under-par 64. Chris Kirk and Steve Marino, also strange names, bettered that with 63’s. And then a somewhat more familiar name, Nick Watney, set a new course record with a 62 on his way to winning the tournament.
For a few moments, they made a highly regarded Aronomink look like a pitch-and-putt course.
Forty contestants, more than half of the 76 who made the cut, shot sub-par scores. Watney shot a 27 on the back nine in the third round and he and Ricky Fowler, who shot a comparatively pedestrian 64, entered Sunday sharing the lead after 54 holes at 9-under 201. The course rebounded on Sunday as Watney went on to win the tournament with a final round of 4 under par 66.
We could document the multiple hockey transactions from the NHL draft session in Minnesota that continued well into the week. Specifically, the actions of the Flyers, who virtually made over their team.
You would almost think the Flyers were coming off a bad season, one labeled in May by their general manager as satisfying. GM Paul Holmgren then proceeded to make multiple changes: a new goaltender, a former veteran scoring king and, in the process, surprising many by dispensing of the services of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. I guess when 36 years have passed since your last Stanley Cup, it’s legal to give things a lot of thought and make major changes.
And there are the player lock-outs, which are no longer singular. The NBA has joined the labor strike and while the NFL talks have gone over 100 days, the NBA situation might last even longer.
The NBA lock-out could seriously affect the 76ers, who made significant strides under Doug Collins. They won 41 games – a big improvement over the preceding year — and the new goal had to be at least somewhere in the 50’s.
This lock-out could seriously dampen hopes and plans because no team will be allowed to communicate with a player, veteran or rookie, until a new CBA is established. That could take much time, while Andre Iguadola, who leads the rumor mill in trades, remains a Sixer.
The difference between the NFL and the NBA is obvious: the NFL plays once a week, whether it’s a 16 game season or an 18 game one. The NBA is 82 games, plus playoffs. And if the season were shortened to 60 games or so, what would be the public reaction?
An interesting question to contemplate, along with many other things that come to mind in this week of many subjects.
Like the superb pitching of Cliff Lee in the month of June – and how he began July by throwing three home-run balls in one inning in Toronto.
The amazing reception tendered Roy Halladay in Toronto where he began his career as a 21-year older, then flourished elsewhere. He came back to pitch a complete game and beat his old team. He is arguably the best pitcher in the game and probably the odds-on choice to start the All Star Game. But in beating his old team he was treated like a conquering hero. It all speaks highly of the class of the Canadian baseball fans, who packed the Rogers Centre 45,000 strong in 2 of the 3 Phillies games in Toronto.
And in this hustling, bustling week something should be written about the Union Soccer team, which beat D.C. on a goal by Carlos Ruiz in the 84th minute at RFK Stadium in Washington.
On the make-up of the baseball All Star teams, I’m personally happy for the Phillies’ Placido Polanco, who has battled injuries all season. He has been a somewhat inconsistent hitter, but has played third base like he’s been there all his life – which he hasn’t. When asked the other day why he just didn’t sit out the All Star game and rest the pinched nerve in his back and his overall weary body, he replied, “I don’t know when I’d be able to play in another All Star game.”
Meanwhile Phillies Nation kept right on voting for Shane Victorino in impressive numbers.
And just to top off multiple choice week, Rafael Nadal, who always wins Wimbledon when Roger Federer doesn’t, failed to win this year. He lost in the final to Novak Djokovic of Serbia the day after Maria Sharapova lost the women’s title as well. And you wonder why we call this week Multiple Choice.
Or there’s the completely orange outfit that Rickey Fowler wore on Sunday at Aronomink, which produced much comment. While you’re wondering who selects his golfing wardrobe, we could close by commenting that the Philadelphia area seriously desires to be considered for an annual stop on the PGA tour – golfers’ wardrobes notwithstanding.
The U.S. Open will be played in this area at Merion in 2013 – but nothing else is scheduled. This year’s tournament at Aronomink, which included a par-5 hole that was reachable with a 7 iron, was attracted by only 5 of the top 30 golfers in the world. And one of them was not Tiger Woods – which probably explains the fact that attendance for the 4 days was 23 percent off from a year ago.
Even in multiple choice week, some people stayed home.
And don’t forget Vance Worley pitched his socks off in the big leagues — and they sent him down to AAA, if only temporarily.
It’s been quite a week.