Thursday, June 18, 2009

US Open 2009 Preview

[by Tim Transon, Armchair Superstar senior golf correspondent]

It’s about that time of year again for my second favorite major tournament–hey Noffke, the Masters is coming up soon. The question for this year’s US Open is; will it be able to live up to the excitement of last years?

The 2008 US Open was an exciting one with an extra day needed to determine a winner. All weekend we heard the story about Tiger Woods' knee injury and if would be able to compete. We kept seeing images of Tiger grimacing in pain after shots, however I believe he was showing off to the cameras because he did it after every bad shot. Not only did Tiger have to make a putt on the final hole on Sunday to force an 18-hole playoff, but he then had to do it again the next day to beat out the veteran Rocco Mediate (I was pulling for Rocco). It was an exciting five days of golf.

The 2009 US Open is being played at Bethpage Black (eighteenth hole pictured here) in Farmingdale NY. The course is a par 70 and 7,426 yards long. The last year the US Open was played here was in 2002 and Tiger Woods was the winner by three strokes over the current number two ranked player Phil Mickelson. While the weather is always unpredictable every year, a few things you can count on include long thick rough, lightning fast greens, and high scores. Although there will be numerous players trying to win, here are a few names, in my mind, for you to keep an eye on.
Tiger Woods: No brainer here, I have always told Noffke that I think Tiger pretty much only tries in Majors and all the smaller tournaments to him are basically just public appearances. We always bet on majors–I take Tiger and he takes the field. It’s not as much of a sucker bet as you might think. I will tell you one thing and that is a couple of weeks ago if you were to ask me who would win the US Open I wouldn’t have even considered Tiger. He was nowhere near back from his knee surgery and his putting stroke was not consistent along with his tee shots. Looking back at the Masters and tournaments that followed he putted terribly.

However, two weeks ago Tiger showed that he is back. After trailing by multiple shots heading into the weekend he played terrific, hitting putts and going 14 for 14 in fairways hit on the final day. He had the best percentage in that category for the entire tournament. If Tiger can play like that this weekend, the tournament could be over quickly.

Phil Mickelson: It’s great to see Phil playing this weekend after learning about the terrible news about his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer. I hope for nothing but a healthy recovery. It will be a difficult time for the Lefty to concentrate with all that is going on in his life right now, however after being paired with Tiger in the Masters and not having his usual collapse he might be able to push everything in the back of his mind for at least four days.

Jim Furyk: I love Jim Furyk. He is one of my favorite golfers. He has that crazy twitch in his backswing but can still recover in time to hit a good shot. Furyk has only one major win, which came in the 2003 US Open at Olympia Fields, but he is consistently at the top of the leader board. I wouldn’t be surprised if Furyk is in contention come Sunday.

Padraig Harrington: Harrington is the best European golfer playing this weekend in my mind. Harrington has three major titles, two British Open wins and a PGA, however he has seemed to be struggling in recent majors. Even though he has been struggling he still has the skills to win and still should be considered a threat.

Sergio Garcia: No I do not believe Sergio to be a contender to win the US Open, but what kind of golf article would it be without making fun of Sergio Garcia? The only way I see Sergio winning this tournament is if they somehow rename the US Open the Ryder Cup.

While many other players don’t seem to play well, especially the Americans in recent years with the exception of this past Ryder Cup, Sergio tends to shine and outplay everyone including Tiger Woods. When it comes to majors, though, he forgets how to play. For instance in 2007 he had a 6 foot putt to win the British Open. As I recall he pushed his putt to go into a playoff with Padraig Harrington and Sergio was easily defeated.

An article in the Daily Herald by Jim Litke here talks more about Garcia’s woes and reminds the reader that he is “0 for 39 in matches that count”. Look for Sergio to keep being Sergio.

There are other players to watch but I don’t have the time to write about all of them. A fun fact for you is that Tiger will be going for major win number 15 and back to back US Opens. After it’s all said and done I believe that Tiger will win this year but I wouldn’t mind if Furyk won or even Kenny Perry who barely just lost the Masters this past April. Well hopefully you enjoyed my first article. I am a terrible writer so if this was painful to read I am sorry. I will come back with a US Open recap sometime next week.

Update: First round has been Postponed till 6:30 tomorrow. It looks like some bad weather all weekend so there will be some high scores. Fodor asked for some dark horses and here they are: Justin Leonard, Kenny Perry, Mike Weir, Zack Johnson, VJ Singh, and Angel Cabrera

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

So, here we are in June.

Basketball is over. Football has just begun OTA's, and it's not even time to start thinking seriously about fantasy NFL yet. We still have at least a month to go until baseball games start to really matter.

Hey! It's the WNBA on NBC!

Just kidding.

On the bright side, the NBA draft is coming up soon, and the Bulls have picks number 16 and 26 to grab a couple of prospects in what I feel is a deep and solid year once you get out of the Top Five.'s Ian Thomsen's first Mock Draft has the Bulls taking Ty Lawson at 16 and then Wayne Ellington at 26. This isn't the first time I've seen Tar Heels on our board. Combining our historic love for successful NCAA players (see: Hinrich, Rose, Ty Thomas, Noah, Gordon, Deng, Elton Brand, etc) with needs at the backup guard spots makes these guys a reasonable choice. One mock I saw had Chicago taking Hansbrough at #26. I would obviously love to see many of my Heels following their fellow alumnus Michael Jordan to the United Center.

Pictured above are President Barack Obama and his top advisor David Axelrod. Over at ESPN, Wright Thompson has a great Outside The Lines piece on how basketball is taking over in Washington DC as everyone jockeys for the ear of our baller president.

Bonnaroo was awesome this past weekend. Big ups to Noffke for carrying the load over here at Armchair Superstar while I was gone! My personal Top Ten list will be going up on Facebook later.

Finally, I finished eighth out of over 120 entries in the NBA One-and-Done league! Had a great time with this league, and was richly rewarded for taking LeBron and Kobe in the Conference Finals, while saving Gasol, Turkoglu, and Odom for the less crucial five-game series.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Following the White Sox invade Milwaukee

So this past Saturday I made my inaugural trip to Miller Park to see the White Sox take on the Brewers.

I have seen the Brewers play before, but that was in the old Milwaukee County Stadium (Made Famous in Major League) and I had heard nothing but fantastic things about the Brewers new stadium Miller Park.

We packed up the car and headed north, forecast was for 70s and sun, we were driving away in 50s and rain. I was thinking, at least they have a retractable roof so the game won’t be rained out. After a quick stop at my cottage we made it to Miller park about 2 hours and 15 minutes before first pitch. As we pulled into the parking lot (reasonably priced at $15) the sun came out, and the sky cleared up. We pulled up and the roof was closed, and 5 minutes out of our car we see a tiny crack open in the roof that steadily got bigger until 20 minutes later the roof was open.

We started tailgating and made friends with out neighbors, and what a nice set up for tailgating. There were Tons of people out, lots of space to play bags, or tailgate golf, or whatever people wanted. The Brewers provided lots of trash cans and areas to put hot charcoal. A first class experience all the way. We decided to head in early to walk around and get a feel for the ball park. Unlike Sox Park and some other ball parks a ticket into the stadium allowed you access to walk around the entire concourse about the 100 level. It was very clean and lots of room to walk as well. Every 100 yards was another beer stand or place to buy a sausage. Even had what appeared to be a nice beer garden outside the stadium.

Our seats were in the right field outfield. We had a good crowd around us of mostly Sox fan. Overall the stadium had a good amount of Sox fans there, probably not a majority, but I’d say roughly 40% of the fans in attendance were wearing the Black and White.

Jose Contreras had another phenomenal outing pitching 8 innings of 1 hit ball again. The Sox rolled to an easy victory over a tough opponent.

My biggest disappoint about the game? I was in a beer line during the Sausage Race! Come back to find out my pick, the Brat, did not fare to well and the Hot Dog won relatively easily.

I enjoyed the experience enough that I think I might be making an annual pilgrimage to Miller Park to see a game no matter who they are playing. If you are ever in or around Milwaukee in the summertime you should as well.

Sosa Tested Positive for Steroids

The New York Times is reporting that Sammy Sosa has tested positive for Steroids.

See Story below for more details

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some fun facts about the NBA Finals

Phil Jackson has won 10 of the last 19 titles!

Phil Jackson has coached in 12 of the last 19 finals!

Even more impressive, he was out of coaching 2 of those seasons. So

Phil Jackson has won 10 titles in his last 17 years of coaching

Phil Jackson has coached in the finals 12 of his last 17 years of coaching.

Here is a list of every champion since

2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers
2007-08 Boston Celtics
2006-07 San Antonio Spurs
2005-06 Miami Heat
2004-05 San Antonio Spurs
2003-04 Detroit Pistons
2002-03 San Antonio Spurs
2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers
2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers
1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers
1998-99 San Antonio Spurs
1997-98 Chicago Bulls
1996-97 Chicago Bulls
1995-96 Chicago Bulls
1994-95 Houston Rockets
1993-94 Houston Rockets
1992-93 Chicago Bulls
1991-92 Chicago Bulls
1990-91 Chicago Bulls
1989-90 Detroit Pistons
1988-89 Detroit Pistons
1987-88 Los Angeles Lakers
1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers
1985-86 Boston Celtics
1984-85 Los Angeles Lakers
1983-84 Boston Celtics
1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers
1981-82 Los Angeles Lakers
1980-81 Boston Celtics
1979-80 Los Angeles Lakers

Notice anything?

Lakers - 9
Bulls - 6
Celtics - 4
Spurs - 4
Pistons - 3
Rockets - 2
Heat - 1
76ers - 1

That is the entire list of every team that has won a title in the past 30 years.

In a 30 team league roughly 75% of the league has not won a title in the past 30 years. So much for parity huh?