August 13, 2009 Column
Stuff You Might Have Heard
Lions to try offensive line by committee
A year after allowing 51 sacks, rushing for just 83.2 yards per game and going 0-16, new Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz says the team is ditching the designated offensive lineman role and instead will be employing an offensive line by committee approach this year. "We may use as many as five offensive linemen, all spread out in front of the quarterback and facing the defensive line. It's worth a shot," said Schwartz. "Just using a center wasn't working for them." While a new approach for the Lions, the offensive line by committee approach has been en vogue in football for the past century. "Sometimes you just have to give in to the latest trends," said Schwartz.
DRAFT: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts With Marvin Harrison finally out of the picture in Indianapolis, Gonzalez's numbers should be well above last year's totals of 57 receptions for 664 yards and 4 TDs. Granted, Gonzalez is not as explosive as Harrison, but Harrison was an all-time great. Also, he packed imported Belgian firearms. So consider drafting Anthony Gonzalez. Just be prepared to have a player on your team who looks like a giant penis.
News What is Hazeltine?
Hazeltine, the host of this year's PGA Championship, is a private golf club in Minnesota that has hosted two U.S. Opens and now its second PGA.
What else do we know about this place? Here are some facts about Hazeltine.
Hazeltine is the longest course in major championship history at 7,674 yards. However, when not aroused for a major, the course is a chode-like 4,861 yards.
The shortest par-5 on the course is 572 yards and the three other par-5s are all over 600 yards. Luckily for the players, those long holes are balanced out by two 90-yard par-6s.
Payne Stewart won the last U.S. Open played at Hazeltine in 1991. He died eight years later in a tragic plane crash. I'm just saying: there's a good chance that the winner of this week's tournament will one day DIE. (Duh-duh-DUMMM.)
Hazeltine National Golf Club is located in Chaska, Minnesota. You may know Chaska, Minn. as the home of Hazeltine National Golf Club (presuming you read the previous sentence and you're hobby isn't learning about tiny, boring towns in Minnesota.)
Rich Beem won the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine by one stroke, holding off a hard-charging Tiger Woods who birdied his final four holes. As you probably know, this is the event that began the great Tiger Woods-Rich Beem rivalry that has so riveted golf fans that past seven years.
Hazeltine's signature hole is the brutal par-4 16th. The tee shot on the hole must carry 220 yards over Hazeltine Lake onto a tight fairway that is bordered by a stream. The green is a raised peninsula that funnels wayward shots into the water to the back and to the right. Also, there's a huge fking dragon in Lake Hazeltine! Run! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
August 13, 2009 Column
Stuff You Might Have Heard
Overly boisterous crowd breaks stadium noise meter
A loud and unruly crowd at Jacobs Field last night broke the stadium’s noise meter when it refused to stop cheering even though the meter was clearly being pushed to its limit.
“I realize we have had a disappointing season, but there’s no excuse for the fans to purposely destroy the noise meter like that,” said general manager Mark Shapiro. “It’s rude, is what it is. Rude. Now we have to pay a bunch of money to buy a new noise meter or just go the rest of the season without one.”
One Indians fan said he regrets his role in breaking the noise meter.
“I guess I just got caught up in the moment,” said season ticket holder Matt Mancuso. “The crowd noise kept growing and I guess it became mob mentality at some point. I’m just glad no one got hurt when the noise meter finally exploded.”
A photo finish in a men's 100-meter semifinal heat at the world championships today not only revealed the winner of the race, but also really highlighted the fact that the winner has an abnormally large nose.
"I've always been conscious of my nose, but having it blown up in profile for the whole world to see was my worst nightmare," said Dwight Martin of Jamaica, who won the race over his countrymen John Gardener with a time of 10.03 seconds. The victory secured the last spot in tomorrow's 100 final.
But despite Martin's embarrassment, race officials said his huge snoz is what gave him the win.
"If he didn't have a freakishly long nose and I'm talking Pinocchio-like he wouldn't have won that heat and wouldn't have made the finals," said Larry O'Connor, an IAAF official who reviewed thephotofinish. "It was that beak that broke the finish line first and got him in ahead of Gardener."
Originally published August 12, 2009.
Our reporter spent the day at Cleveland Browns training camp in Berea, Ohio. Here are his notes.
> The Derek Anderson-Brady Quinn quarterback battle is nearing its second full week and a clear winner is beginning to emerge: every team who gets to play the Browns this year.
> Former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel is oddly still in his usual spot at training camp: asleep in a golf cart on the sidelines.
> First round draft pick Alex Mack is adjusting nicely to the size of the NFL ball when snapping it through his legs to the quarterback. Great pick.
> Braylon Edwards keeps trying to run a tip drill every time a ball is thrown his way.
> The scene from the final season of "The Sopranos" where they gawk in amazement at Eric Mangini is to that show what a scene in which Jon Hamm's character stares dumbstruck at the playing abilities of Bob Uecker would be to "Mad Men."
> Kellen Winslow is no longer on the team, but the Browns practice facility is still heavily mined. Use caution if you visit!
DRAFT: Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints Thomas broke out last year with 625 yards on just 129 carries. He also scored 9 rushing touchdowns and had another 3 TDs through the air on 31 receptions. Of course, Thomas will still have to split some carries with Reggie Bush again this year. But it looks like the Saints will continue to give Thomas the majority of the 4, 5 and 6-yard carries while Bush continues to lock down the 2 and 3-yard gains.
August 12, 2009 Column
Stuff You Might Have Heard
Tony LaRussa brings in Capricorn to pitch to a Leo
St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, with the bases full of Cancers last night and only one out, pulled his Gemini starter to bring in a Capricorn reliever to pitch to a Leo. "It was a crucial point in the game. Things were aligned," said LaRussa. "I needed that Capricorn-Leo match-up. Capricorn and Leo don't mesh well and I hoped it would result in a strikeout or double play." Unfortunately for LaRussa, his move produced a bases-clearing double, but he says he is glad he played the odds: "It's no more insane than batting the pitcher eighth."
Rick Pitino hoped the sordid details of his personal life wouldn't affect his results on the court. But now it appears rival coaches are using the details of the Louisville head coach's affair against him in the always cutthroat battle for elite recruits.
The mother of five-star prospect John White says she began receiving calls from other coaches minutes after the Pitino news broke.
"They all said pretty much the same thing: 'Mrs. White, do not send your child to Louisville. Rick Pitino could abort him,'" claimed Sheila White. "I told them that my John is 17-years-old and 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, making aborting him very unlikely but they all insisted that Rick is capable of anything. Do I think it's likely? No. But is it worth the risk of sending my son to Louisville? Probably not. They made a good argument."
Myron Haney, the top-ranked point guard prospect in the country who already verbally committed to Louisville, says he has received texts from coaches of other programs about the Pitino news.
"Everyone is trying to get me to de-commit," said Haney. "They said that this will be a big distraction for Coach Pitino and it's in my best interest to go elsewhere. And, also, if I disappoint him in any way a down season, a missed free throw, not rotating quick enough on defense he may try to do away with me, especially because I'm not his own flesh and blood."
But Haney says that makes him want to go to Louisville even more.
"Am I scared? Sure. But I love a challenge," he said. "I didn't get this far in basketball by being scared and I am motivated to make it through four years at Louisville without Coach Pitino snuffing me out."
A fellow coach in the Big East, who asked to remain anonymous, says he is not ashamed by his new recruiting pitch of questionable ethics.
"This is a dirty business. We all know the rules," he said. "You do what you have to do to get top recruits. Heck, Rick has been telling recruits for years about the time I killed that hooker at the conference tournament."
Our reporter spent the day at San Diego Chargers training camp in San Diego. Here are his notes.
> With the contracts of Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman, Darren Sproles, Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill all set to expire after the season, there is a definite sense in Chargers camp that the window of opportunity is closing. Plus, the Broncos, Chiefs and Raiders can't possibly suck to this degree for much longer, right?
> The Chargers are motivated to change the perception that they are soft. As such, they have begun attending therapy sessions to talk about how that perception hurts them.
> Despite turning 30 and coming off the worst season of his career, LaDainian Tomlinson says he is better than ever. And if he can be only 10 times better than Shaun Alexander was under similar circumstances at age 30, the Chargers might have an adequate complimentary back in Tomlinson this year.
> This is a photo I took at camp of Darren Sproles -> . It is magnified to 200-percent of life-size.
> You know how as a reporter you are supposed to be all impartial and everything? Well, despite all that it took the entirety of my will to stop myself from walking up and kicking Philip Rivers in the nuts.
> They are apparently still letting Norv Turner coach this talented team. Really.