That was pretty exciting stuff in the end. The more I watch the shot Sergio hit (and, boy, are they hitting replay on the Golf Channel with it this week), the more I reckon he wasn't taking that flag on at all and just came out of the shot a little early. He leaves his hands so far behind the rest of his body on the way down that if he clears his hips even a little early, there's almost no chance that his hands can catch up. The result when he gets out of it seriously early (or when Tiger is picking his nose in the vicinity or whatever) is a massive block like he hit on Saturday; but when he's just fractionally off, possibly because the pressure is on in the final round, the result is just a little bit of a thinned push. If he was playing for the middle of the green, he had to have a club that couldn't go long if he adrenalined it, so as soon as it goes right (and loses distance) you're in big trouble.
So the story he came out with afterwards that he took on the pin and failed might have been disingenuous.
Those last three holes are great for the end of a tournament, especially with the pin at 17 out right like that. If you get a bit quick on it at 16 and leave one out right, you're dead. If you throw your hands over the top to guard against doing that, you're then left with a horrible pitch back towards the water. At 17, everywhere is pretty much dead other than on the green. The joy of it is that it's such a short hole, so the pressure actually increases. Then at 18 you have two choices - pull it into the water or block it into the trees (or, if you're tiger, just rip it like it's a PlayStation with a hard hook round the shape of the hole) and then you've either got to come at that front left pin from a mile away because you dunked the tee shot, or you've got to come across the slope at the front of the green out of the right rough and hope you can somehow get it stopped before it gets wet.
posted by JJ at 04:24 PM on May 15
That's golf. That's Sawgrass. That's 17 at Sawgrass. Sergio really only hit one bad shot. Maybe not even that. Looked and sounded a decent strike, so he maybe just got a badly timed gust of wind. That was the ball game. The further capitulation was irrelevant really.
I'm watching the Golf Channel: Tiger's conversion rate of 54-hole leads into wins = 52 out of 56. That's obscene. Nicklaus for his career was 40 of 64, which is also obscene, but not even in the ballpark.
Woods now just 4 short of Sam Snead's record 82 PGA Tour wins. Snead was 46 when he won his 78th title. Woods is 37. Most ominous for the rest of the fields for the rest of the season - this is the fastest he's made it to four wins in a year ever.
posted by JJ at 07:44 PM on May 12
If so, can he have a word with Tiger and Sergio? I love it when PGA Tour players behave like actual golfers and not publicity-courting advertising hoardings. Did Tiger pull that club on purpose to distract Sergio? I doubt it. But having done it, did he miss the opportunity to let it get under Sergio's skin? Certainly not! If you're there, rcade, muscle your way into a press conference and ask Sergio how much further right he might have hit it if he hadn't been distracted.
[Speaking of sending emissaries to golf events, I've been invited to play at Muirfield over the weekend of 8th/9th June, so about five weeks before the Open Championship is played there. While I may have to change the names to protect the inebriated (lunch at Muirfield is not for the faint-livered), I will report back on how the course is set up.]
posted by JJ at 09:46 AM on May 12
Speaking of rally drivers... in case anyone missed this in the Guardian last week. If you're offended by swearing Irishmen, don't watch it.
posted by JJ at 11:23 AM on May 10
I'm sure this probably counts as a self-link, but if anyone's still interested in matters golfing, I just posted a bit of a rambling comment in the Adam Scott thread. Naturally it had nothing to do with Scott (rather, Tiger) and nothing to do with long putters (rather, the rules about where your balls may drop *cough*). I'll check back from time to time if anyone wants to get into it.
posted by JJ at 02:05 PM on April 23
Speaking of rulings at the Masters (which no one really was, and certainly I doubt anyone's still hanging around this thread now anyway), the one with Woods on Friday was one I came across years ago and wrote to the R&A about. They replied too, with some helpful clarification.
Playing in an amateur championship in Ireland, I lost a ball with an approach shot. On returning to the original spot from which I hit struck the shot, I read the rule book, specifically Rule 26-1(a), and began to wonder why it was worded so vaguely. All of the other dropping situations in golf are clearly defined ("drop within one club length" for example), but this one uses the rather imprecise term "as near as possible to the point of the original shot".
Dilligent youngster that I was, I found the divot I had taken and dropped my ball as near as possible to it; so near, in fact, that the ball ended up in said divot, sitting on top of the piece of turf I had replaced. I called for a referee and successfully argued that I should be allowed to drop it again because the divot was created (slightly) closer to the hole than the position in which the ball originally sat, so I had unintentionally dropped closer to the hole. The referee agreed, I redropped several feet away from the divot and the ball was back in play.
Later that day, I saw the referee again and over a beer we discussed the rule. I'd spent most of the back nine that day thinking about how many times you'd have to drop a ball until it was realistically "as near as possible" to the original spot. It's a philosophical minefield.
After the tournament, I wrote to the R&A rules committee about the rule, asking why it wasn't stated more clearly, suggesting that "within one clublength of the point from which the original ball was struck" would work well as alternative wording. I allowed myself to get quite excited. If they reworded the rules according to my suggestion, I thought, I could legitimately lay claim to having had a gamechanging influence on my sport.
They wrote back (it was a more civilised time) thanking me for my question and answering it. The problem, they pointed out, is that it's not always easy to identify the exact point from which the original ball was struck. What if no divot was taken? What if one was playing from deep rough? Demanding that players discover the exact location of the original shot would lead potentially to a vast increase in the number of provisional balls being hit. Indeed, in any serious championship or tournament, it would be imprudent not to hit a provisional ball every time your shot finished out of sight.
As a wild and wayward hitter of some renown, I immediately saw how this would worsen the already tardy pace of play. I wrote back and thanked them for taking the time to reply.
All of which of course really has nothing to do with what happened at Augusta. Tiger not only dropped the ball too far away from the (clearly defined in this case) original point, he then decided to brag about doing so afterwards. The resulting furore should go down as a dark moment for golf. The tournament organisers should have had the stones to disqualify him. They didn't, so Tiger himself should have withdrawn, with a bashful smile about his ignorance of the rules, an acknowledgement of the hubris inherent in his comments on the Friday night both about what he did and his glib remark about Guan Tianlang ("rules are rules"), and then a quick reiteration of the line in his "apology" back in 2010: "I don't get to play by different rules."
He could have closed with a word or two about Bobby Jones, the co-creator of the Masters Tournament, and how he was known throughout the sporting world not only as a supremely talented athlete, but also as an upholder of the highest levels of sportsmanship - the very man who, when lauded by the press for calling a penalty on himself that essentially cost him the US Open in 1925, replied merely that one "might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank" - and that in that same spirit, he (Tiger) couldn't possibly continue to participate in the tournament.
His moral rehabilitation would have been complete. His sponsors would have come flooding back. The public would have clutched him ever closer to their bossom. And curiously, almost without noticing, he'd have started to feel better about himself. He'd have started to feel once more what I'm guessing he hasn't genuinely felt for a long time: like he was destined to win, destined to reach and surpass Jack's record. And because he felt it, he might just have done it.
In fact, he copped out. He didn't win the tournament. He won't win at Merion in the US Open in June. He won't catch Jack.
He's a wealthy man, but "poor and content is rich, and rich enough..." as Iago would have put it had he ever watched the Masters.
posted by JJ at 02:02 PM on April 23
Oh, and Owlie?
"Come on Aussie!"
posted by JJ at 09:36 AM on April 17
I'm a bit late to the party on this and I suspect there won't be much further debate to be had, but just in case anyone's still checking back, I'll throw in my take on the long putters debate.
When they first started getting used on tour (Johnny Miller was one of the first to try one out) in the 80s, they were seen as crutches for golfers with crippling doses of the yips. As such, said golfers were to be pitied - they were terrible putters without a long putter, and at best mediocre with it, but at least the long putter would allow them to continue to play. The rules bodies (the R&A and the USGA) looked at them. They clearly contravened an original and quite explicit rule of the game - that the club should always be swung freely and never "anchored" to the body in any way - but really, they reasoned, what harm would it do to let the floundering putters extend their golfing lives a little by letting them use these remedial devices?
Then, slowly, the nature of the long putter changed as people experimented with other methods of anchoring it to various parts of their body (the arm, the belly, etc.). Increasingly, it became clear that for some players who may have been below average putters (but were far from being "crippled" by their poor putting), using one of these alternative methods improved their performance.
Today, we're in a position that has forced the rules-making bodies to examine again the phenomenon of the anchored putter and decide whether or not it should still be permitted. It would seem that they are going to alter the status quo, although how exactly they're going to do that remains unclear.
One of the primary arguments put forward by the pro-anchoring faction is circular and will not stand. In essence, it says: there is no statistical evidence that anchored putters make putting any easier. If that is true, how can you have an objection to their removal? At the same time, if that is true, how can anyone else have an objection to their continued use?
Statistics can only go so far - they struggle to reflect the importance of the putts being holed (or missed) in the context of a tournament. My own opinion was simply backed up watching a very exciting Sunday at Augusta. I love watching players come down the stretch and facing challenges. I love to see someone faced with a six-foot putt under pressure; I think to myself 'now we'll see what you're made of... how your nerves are.' Scott faced several challenges of that nature during the course of the final round and holed all of them. Nerveless, you might say. Or, if you're me, the anchored putters make it too easy to avoid the little twitchy mistakes all players are prone to on the greens as the heart beats faster and blood thunders in your ears.
I also don't like the argument that has often been put forward about players in general and Scott in particular: "He's a wonderful player, but his putting lets him down." My response tends to be to point out that putting is and always has been part of the game. If you take it away, or reduce its influence of the outcome, why bother walking around a golf course at all? Tournaments could be held at driving ranges, given that they would be reduced to mere hitting contests.
Hogan argued, with his tongue a long way from his cheek, that putts should only count half. Why? Because he hit the ball more consistently well than everyone - possibly ever - and he felt aggrieved that lesser strikers could beat him quite often by virtue of their superior putting. Far be it from me to disagree too stongly with a player I have come to think of as my favourite of all time, but that's simply too narrow a view of the game as a whole.
The rule-makers have arrived at a sticky issue - partly through their own lack of foresight (they gave an inch and now seem surprised that a mile was taken) - but they ought to act, and in my opinion, they ought to outlaw the anchored putting technique. Had the (in my view, entirely predictable) outcome been made clear to the rule-makers when they first considered anchored putters, they would never have permitted their use in the first place. As it is, they let the cat out of the bag and now have the devil's own job herding it back in there.
posted by JJ at 09:35 AM on April 17
I don't know whether one is allowed to drive it on the green or not (given that at many golf courses one is prohibited from doing all manner of seemingly harmless things, such as wearing jeans or being female), but the guy in the video claims it has a "footprint" 30 times lighter than a human footprint so leaves no trace.
I suppose it would be fine to drive it over the green as long as you didn't stop.
posted by JJ at 05:34 AM on April 05
Bubba Watson's bored with golf carts. So he commisioned a hovercraft [YouTube].
posted by JJ at 08:50 AM on April 04
The eighth win of the same tournament is even more incredible in the context of how many times he's played it - he's won it precisely 50% of the times he's entered it. I'm not sure how many times Snead had to play the Greater Greensboro Open to win it eight times, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it was more than sixteen times in the 27 years between his first win in 1938 and his last in 1965.
Of course, the notion of Tiger's "slump" has been fairly misguided as I've waffled on about here before - yesterday's win was his sixth win in his last 20 PGA Tour starts, which would make his "slump" equate to most people's dream season - but there was a calm assurance about him at Bay Hill and at Doral a few weeks ago, that looked more like vintage Tiger. He had spells with those "lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin', until he bites ya..."
He's the favourite to win at Augusta, with no small justification. In his 16 professional starts there he has won four times and finished in the top-8 eleven times. Last year was his worst ever perfomance there when he finished 40th. I suspect the days of him winning it at a stretch have gone, but he will almost certainly be there or thereabouts come Sunday.
Someone who might not is Big Phil. His putting - which had seemed to improve so dramatically with his adoption of the claw grip - seems to have gone to hell overnight.
posted by JJ at 10:29 AM on March 26
I'd pay good money to have a two cocktail head start.
posted by JJ at 11:51 AM on March 06
Thanks for that, owlhouse. A quality read!
I discovered recently that the grandfather of a good friend of mine was once a Wisden cricketer of the year. Perhaps, without wishing to be unkind, the least impressive one ever, in fact.
posted by JJ at 06:58 AM on March 06
They still play rugby (union) better in the south. Lung busting? Just a bit.
posted by JJ at 07:42 AM on March 05
How does this get into a court? The waiver specifically mentions injury caused by a batted ball. By purchasing the ticket, has the chap not entered into a contract and thereby accepted the conditions of that waiver?
Perhaps his eye socket could sue his hand for accepting the ticket. Or launch a class action with his cheek, brow, nose and brain against his fingers, his hand and his trouser pocket.
Also, I look forward to reading the court's definition of "inherently dangerous". Life's inherently dangerous; we'll be lucky to get out of it alive.
posted by JJ at 07:55 AM on March 01
When I lived in South Africa, I stayed with some friends in Cape Town for a few months. First thing my host wanted to do when I arrived was show me where the guns were kept in case someone broke in. I thanked him but explained that I'd be as likely to shoot myself or his dog if I was let loose with a gun I didn't know how to use. To him, it was normal to have guns all over the place.
A tragic accident seems more likely to me (or maybe I just want it to). Disturbances of a domestic nature could mean a party that was too loud - not out of the question for a young celebrity athlete.
posted by JJ at 01:15 PM on February 14
You know who else used deer-antler spray...
posted by JJ at 07:19 AM on February 05
The "he died doing something he loved" thing always struck me as slightly flawed insofar as, in this case, he loved landing big jumps on his snowmobile, he did not love getting it slightly wrong and having the thing land on him. Likewise at the Isle of Man TT where deaths are much more frequent, the same logic gets trotted out, when in fact what the riders love is, to some extent, cheating and avoiding death, not hitting a wall at 180 mph and being engulfed in a fireball. It's a bit of a semantic argument and probably the wrong time to get into it of course.
There's a great way of looking at it in this film, spoken by the wife of a rider killed racing in the TT: "You can't love the death, you can't love the loss, but you can't love the excitement and the thrill without knowing that that's part of it."
posted by JJ at 06:56 AM on February 01
Long drive contest inside?
posted by JJ at 12:26 PM on November 20
I've watched a lot of sport in my life - and I've watched a lot of golf - but I've never watched better than the final day of that Ryder Cup. There were so many turning points that I lost track, so many moments where an American had a putt that had to miss, or a European had a putt that he had to hole for the dream to live, and every single one of them went our way.
The press in the UK have been as narrative obsessed as yours - they want to talk about Olazabal's brilliance (I maintain that we won it despite him, not because of him), or McIlroy's talent (he underperformed by his own lofty standards) and even when they talk about the guys who actually made it happen (Rose, Garcia, Kaymer), they talk around the subject about hecklers, Seve "looking down", and Langer in '91.
I disagree entirely that Phil did the wrong thing at 17, and it certainly didn't cause him to airmail the last green. The margins are so slim sometimes. That shot he hit into 18 was dead on line and the only thing that took it over the back was adrenaline. If anything, he was too hyped up.
posted by JJ at 09:31 AM on October 03
That "slump" of McIlroy's keeps getting better and better. Three wins in four weeks, including a major, and all of them dished out with great authority against classy leaderboards. He continues to be able to play "relaxed" golf even under the severest pressure, and I continue to be amazed. When Woods took over the world, I remember feeling privileged to be watching golf in an era when someone was tearing up the rule book and redefining greatness in the sport, but I remember too having a tinge of regret that once he was done, every up and coming youngster for years was going to face the tag of being "the next Woods", when really we had no right to expect anyone to ever be that dominant ever again.
Obviously, it's early days, but McIlroy is definitely showing his intentions to at least try and compete with that level that Woods set.
posted by JJ at 07:41 AM on September 10
The ladies section (both of them) will be allowed to play on Tuesday afternoons any time after 5PM.
Joking aside (I hope), are there any ladies tees at Augusta?
posted by JJ at 01:10 PM on August 20
Michael Johnson gets the prize for his reaction to Bolt's 100m in the 2008 final though.
posted by JJ at 12:11 PM on August 14
Mind you, Colin Jackson is an idiot.
posted by JJ at 12:08 PM on August 14
And just in case you ever doubted that the BBC guys are sports fans...
Michael Johnson, Denise Lewis, Colin Jackson and John Inverdale watch from the booth as Mo Farah and Galen Rupp finish one and two in the 10,000 metres [YouTube]
posted by JJ at 12:06 PM on August 14
I have to declare an interest and say that the executive producer of the BBC's coverage is a friend of mine, but even if he wasn't I couldn't praise their coverage of the whole thing highly enough. Through the day on TV, radio and online, it was superb and comprehensive. The evening round-up programmes were brilliant (Michael Johnson, John McEnroe and Ian Thorpe offering their insights as sportsmen and their enthusiasm as sports fans), especially as most of them had to be put together in about twenty minutes after the end of the live coverage.
That's when the BBC gets it right - when they have to think on their feet and just put something out there. For me, they only tend to fall over when they have a lot of time to think about something.
Some of the presenters are useless and how they keep their jobs is beyond me (Gary Lineker with his simpering "How did that make you FEEL?" questions, and Sue Barker who looks permanently like she's just been caught smoking behind the bike sheds, or cycling behind the tobacconist's or something), but most of them were outstanding - Claire Balding, Gabby Logan, John Inverdale, even Colin Murray on the radio was good and normally I can't stand him. I think the secret was that you got the impression with the latter group that they saw it as a privilege to be reporting from the games and that if they hadn't been lucky enough to have been chosen to do so, they'd have been doing everything in their powers to get a ticket so they could at least watch the sport.
I thought that even if we as a nation didn't f*** up the actual games, we might well have f****** up the coverage. Amazingly, it would seem that not only did we do neither, but we actually did a good job on both.
posted by JJ at 12:03 PM on August 14
They did f*****g not!? Seriously? That's ****** ****** up.
posted by JJ at 11:29 AM on August 14
How did you celebrate your gold medal? Oh, you know, in usual London style: got drunk, got robbed and had to sleep in a train station because someone had nicked my accreditation for the Olympic Village...
German Robert Harting's night was just getting started when he ripped his shirt in half and then did the 100m hurdles during his victory lap after winning the discus gold medal.
posted by JJ at 10:19 AM on August 14
And that's why I come to SportsFilter again and again. Thanks, swerve. Excellent knowledge, excellently shared.
posted by JJ at 05:30 AM on August 09
Much against the advice of his coach, Bolt plays football (or soccer if you must) all the time. He's rubbish. As a 100m runner, he's not even the right type of 100m runner to make use of his pace - he's a crap starter who then picks up the slack and smashes everyone to bits by 70 metres. But how often do you have to beat someone over 70 metres in a football match? And even if it comes up, how often could you do it before you'd be blowing bubbles?
The most drastic career move Bolt will make is to run 400m. I heard Kriss Akabusi on the radio last night saying he was sure that's what he'd do for Rio (as in the next Olympics, not the buck-toothed, Jim Henson controlled Man Utd centreback). But I'd echo etagloh and say there have been questions about whether he has the discipline for the much harder training that would come with that. Watching Kirani James the other night, it occurred to me that the 400 is just an out and out sprint event now.
posted by JJ at 05:22 AM on August 09
Morrissey reckons we're enjoying the Olympics too much: "... the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain..."
posted by JJ at 10:10 AM on August 07
In Danger Of Falling Behind, British Cyclist Intentionally Crashes To Get A Restart
In danger of being accused of having a sense of humour, American journalist takes everything literally to get to high moral ground.
In danger of getting his team disqualified, German-speaking humourist and part time cyclist is advised to stop making jokes.
I watched his interview and thought: "If you're joking, it's not working; if you're not, that's a silly rule and you shouldn't be bragging about using it." I'm glad the medal stands - I think they might have had a riot on their hands if they'd tried to take it off Chris Hoy - but the rule should be changed.
posted by JJ at 12:13 PM on August 03
The whole thing is a philosophical minefield. The Badminton Federation are at fault for setting up a competition format that facilitated, even encouraged, this behaviour; but the athletes are also at fault. They weren't easing up to save energy, they were deliberately trying to lose. For me, it all comes down to the oath you swear when you become an Olympian:
I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.
They abided by the rules, but they didn't do so in the true spirit of sportsmanship, they certainly didn't do anything for the glory of their sport, and they didn't honour their teams.
posted by JJ at 05:49 AM on August 02
Samuel L Jackson is an Olympics-a-holic.
Or he's a parody of himself. You decide!
posted by JJ at 12:06 PM on August 01
posted by JJ at 11:55 AM on August 01
You can save your disgust.
This is Great Britain, so they've all been disqualified for being terribly ungentlemanly.
posted by JJ at 10:18 AM on August 01
Finding it hard to get excited about the Olympics?
Feel like the broadcasters aren't giving you enough back-story or form guides to the sports you want to watch but haven't seen for 3 years and 51 weeks?
You need the Olympics Prospectus.
Seriously, you really need it.
posted by JJ at 11:49 AM on July 26
Looks like we've cocked up the Olympics before they've even begun. Wrong flag displayed at North Korea's opening match in the womens football.
posted by JJ at 07:27 AM on July 26
The sporting press love a car crash, but I'm not sure I'm buying that this was one. It's a feature of Lytham that I've never liked that the final stretch of holes is disproportionately difficult, requiring a player to make a score early then hang on to as much of it as possible on the way in. That doesn't tend to make for an exciting finish. Compare it to Augusta on Sunday where the last six holes have two reachable par fives and gathering pins at 14, 16 and 18. That combination produces great excitement year after year.
For me, Scott's big mistake yesterday was being too conservative earlier in the round when he had a five shot lead. He needed to turn that into a 7 or 8 shot lead, and then he could have waved to the crowd over the closing stretch.
Regardless, he lost it; but he's not one of life's intellectuals so I doubt he'll pick over the bones of it too much. If he gets himself in position again in a major, he might just do a McIlroy and put it to bed by ten shots! At 25/1, he looks a half decent bet for the PGA.
Let's take nothing from the winner though. Over four days, Ernie hit one fewer shot than everyone else, which is all it takes to win. He joins some pretty elite company in the process:
Only 27 people in more than 150 years of major championship golf have won 4 or more majors. Only Hagen, Jones, Vardon, Player, Palmer, Trevino, Watson, Seve, Harrington, Woods and now Els have won majors in three different countries (England, Scotland and the USA). Only five players have won majors in three different decades - Vardon, Taylor, Player, Nicklaus and Els (another tragedy from Turnberry - if Watson had won it, he'd have won in three different decades with a decade's gap!).
The longest gap between first and most recent victory in a major: Nicklaus, 24 years; Player, 19 years; and now Els, 18 years. (Tom would have nailed that record too, obviously, with a 35 year gap between his first win in 1975 and his last in 2009 - not that it still hurts to think about it. Man, it hurts me, what must it do to him?)
And finally, just because it's Ernie, we need the immortal line from his grandmother when he won his second US Open in 1997. The Els family were watching back home, so granny had long since gone to bed. Ernie's mum woke her in the small hours to tell her the good news. Her reply was priceless: "That's lovely, dear. But when's he going to stop playing golf and get himself a job?"
posted by JJ at 07:41 AM on July 23
I'm never sure if it's just house style for a dumb jock audience or genuine jock ignorance
As Orwell put it:
"But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."
posted by JJ at 07:40 AM on July 20
Quote of the day came from Wiggins: "There's enough police on this road to hopefully find them people and... send them to a football match or something."
posted by JJ at 11:26 AM on July 18
I don't mind a grunt or even a semi-orgasmic shriek from time to time when the point is just too tense or exciting to be borne, but when it gets to the point that Sciovone seems to have reached of shrieking when she hits it and then offering up a subsequent orgasmic grunt just as the ball lands at the other end, it is, as swerve just said, gamesmanship, pure and simple. It wouldn't make an ounce of difference to someone like me, but I imagine at the upper echelons of the game, the sound of the ball as it arrives in front of you provides a lot of information (about spin and firmness of bounce and so on).
I know table tennis players have often said that the stamping of their feet when they serve is not a physical technique to improve the execution of the shot, but an auditory technique to obscure the sound of the paddle striking the ball.
posted by JJ at 07:39 AM on July 06
The only celebration that was in any way inappropriate was from Reina. Spain's third choice keeper who has played precisely 45 minutes of football for Spain in the last five seasons (in a friendly against England, in which he let in the goal that sealed an unlikely 1-0 win for England), so has played very little meaningful part in any of their major triumphs, but he was leaping about like he'd saved a decisive penalty.
I'm a Liverpool fan. I think he's awesome. But he looked like an eijit last night.
posted by JJ at 12:46 PM on July 02
Luiz should have gotten a second yellow in the second half for a nasty tackle, possibly even a straight red...
If he'd been booked for that, I might have stopped watching football forever. I'd argue (without statistics or really any common sense to back me up, of course) that there were fewer injuries, and less career-threatening injuries, in days gone by when everyone flew in all over the place. In those days, you didn't stand your ground and try to "draw a foul" before swan diving like they do now. As a consequence, the tackles were harder, but people knew how to get out of the way of them, or ride them.
It's a contact sport, people are going to get hurt, even without malice on either side, tackles get badly timed and studs end up where they shouldn't. If a lot of these prima dona morons knew how to get out of the way instead of standing about trying to get taken out, we'd have to watch a lot less footage of them collapsing like empty sacks. Messi rides a tackle better than anyone in the game; I think it's no coincidence that he's also considered the best in the world by many.
posted by JJ at 12:09 PM on May 21
That's some interesting insight, Bismarck. Quality.
posted by JJ at 12:03 PM on May 21
One of the key moments was Schweinsteiger getting a yellow card early in the game for a needless, pointless, deliberate hand-ball. He backed out of several challenges later in the game, presumably not wanting to risk picking up another yellow. When I've watched Bayern this year, he's been key in breaking up the opposition play with some crunching tackles. He drifted in and out of the game a bit after he got booked.
Another key time was when the penalty had been awarded in extra time and Ribery mucked about on the ground for three minutes. I don't doubt that he was properly hurt, but some presence of mind on someone's part might have got him shifted off the pitch as quickly as possible so that they could get on with taking the penalty. What was vital was that Mikel Jon Obi didn't leave Robben's side for those three minutes. He paced around next to him, talking at him. That was smart (if not exactly dripping with sportsmanship). I also thought it was odd that Bayern let Robben take it, given that as a Chelsea player, he had presumably taken lots of penalties in training against Petr Cech, which would give a bit of an advantage to the keeper I'd have thought.
About the only Chelsea players that underperformed for me were Mata and David Luiz - or Spanish Wayne Rooney and Sideshow Bob, as I prefer to think of them. Oh, and Kalou, who should be sold at once; possibly to a circus.
posted by JJ at 08:19 AM on May 21
an incredibly talented person who squanders his talent flopping around and crying
Another way to look at it is that his willingness to go to ground is sometimes what buys him a little bit of extra space in which to display his talent. If a defender knows you'll go down easily, and that maybe half the time (or more) the referee will find in your favour when you do, that defender will either back off altogether, or at least hesitate for just long enough for you to make him look silly.
It also buys him space every now and then when a defender flies in at him, misses the ball and the man, then turns to the referee to protest his innocence, assuming that Robben will go down. Thing is, he doesn't always fall down, so while the defender is protesting a foul that hasn't even been given, Robben is away and charging up the line.
Some might call it cynical play from the Ducthman; I'd call it a small guy making the most of what he's got. I really rate him. He's got that rare thing that only a few are blessed with - everyone knows what he's going to do, but they still struggle to stop him doing it.
posted by JJ at 08:06 AM on May 21
I'm offended by the inferior quality of his humour, but I'm not offended on behalf of fat people everywhere. In fact, at the risk of losing friends: fat jokes = black jokes = Jew jokes? Hardly.
posted by JJ at 10:36 AM on May 11
Goal of the season. Hard luck, Crouchy. Nice try, Suarez.
posted by JJ at 12:31 PM on May 03
Flight of a shuttlecock. Implicit in the advertising seems to be that the steeper the final descent, the better quality the shuttlecock.
posted by JJ at 08:26 AM on May 02
Terry's so hot and cold these days, it might not be terrible news that he's missing. If David Luiz and Cahill are fit, that sounds a decent pair of centre backs to me (as long as someone has a stern discussion with Sideshow Bob before the match about his attacking inclinations and how to curb them a bit).
Mereiles was superb in both legs against the Catalan midgets, but I'm not convinced he'd have been the right man for the job against the more physical challenge that will be presented in the final by either Bayern or Madrid. Essien has looked a bit of a spent force since his last injury, but he's also had some good games, notably when playing in the same side as Luiz, when he's shown a real aptitude for tracking back to cover the holes he leaves when he galavants off in search of goals.
Ramires will really be missed. He looks like the real deal, like Sturidge, except he plays with his head up, has an exquisite passing game, and is willing to cover back all day long... so not really at all like Sturidge. Perhaps the way to go would be to play Torres in a Ramires role. The Spaniard has also shown surprising willingness to put the work in defensively all season. Even as a Liverpool fan who should be gleeful about his lack of goals since we sold him, I haven't been and was delighted to see him wrap it up so calmly last night when the opportunity presented itself.
Ivanovic is an absolute liability. I was at the first leg at Stamford Bridge and where we were sitting was more or less right up the defensive line for three big offside shouts against Barca in the first half - all three looked yards offside, until I looked all the way across the pitch to Ivanovic wandering about playing everyone on. He also went on a couple of forward runs and then was unable (or unwilling) to get back into position quickly enough once he lost the ball. He was better last night, and I really felt for him after the game when he clearly didn't realise he was going to miss the final until the interviewer told him so, but even so, it's not necessarily a catastrophe that he's out. Mind you, Bosingwa's not much better on the liability front.
The one good thing for Chelsea about all of those guys being out of the final is that they won't be distracted by it or saving themselves for it in either the FA Cup Final or the race for fourth spot in the league.
posted by JJ at 07:59 AM on April 25
Great photos of the Champions League semifinals. Incredible goal by Chelsea yesterday at the half.
I was lucky enough to be at the game. An extraordinary display of discipline from Chelsea. Everyone keeps waffling on about the possession statistics but neglects to mention that Chelsea definitely set out to let Barca have the ball in certain areas of the pitch and to avoid exhausting themselves by chasing after it. Barca might have had 72% of possession, but Chelsea scored 100% of the goals, which is still the only stat that actually counts.
My friend, a lifelong Chelsea fan, was quite pleased with the result.
posted by JJ at 06:37 AM on April 20
"Sometimes the game of golf is just too difficult to endure with a golf club in your hands." - Bobby Jones
I'm not sure if being a prolific thrower and breaker of clubs makes me more or less qualified to speak to Tiger's behaviour. Rage on the golf course is almost exclusively self-directed and mentally caused. Very few "hot tempered" golfers are losing the rag because they got a bad break; it's almost always some kind of expression of self-loathing, brought on by changing one's mind midway through a swing and the body failing to get the message in time.
To cut through all that - Tiger's in a bad place again, mentally. He seems to have lost (or certainly at the Masters he lost) the ability to reset and start again. The rage is feeding itself. If I didn't know better, I'd say he needed to get laid.
posted by JJ at 10:57 AM on April 11
The weather could play a big part this week. The last time I remember there being a really early spring (and therefore less colour in the shrubberies) was 1997. The course was soft and Tiger took it to bits. Someone might do so again this year, but I doubt it'll be him.
I fancy Mickelson strongly - softer greens allow him to hit the idiotically attacking shots he really wants to hit, so he'll have to spend less time chanting to himself "Don't be an idiot, don't be an idiot..." the whole way round.
I'm really looking forward to this one. I always do, but this one has had a great build up compared to recent years. That said, golf's the kind of game that could see all that build up blown out of the water and someone unheralded (like Webb Simpson) come storming through the field to win it.
posted by JJ at 08:27 AM on April 04
Sepp Blatter's remarks to follow...
posted by JJ at 11:20 AM on March 28
Impressive stuff - although it must be easier when your nearest realistic challenger all day has an attitude like this: "I think he really just kind of nailed his comeback. It was great to have a front row seat watching maybe the greatest of all time doing what he does best - winning golf tournaments."
It was great to watch? You're not there to watch, GMac, you're the man in the arena, so get some dust, sweat and blood on your face and stop admiring the Tiger.
Still, I'm glad to see Woods win again. The sport needs a strong Woods, no matter what some of the old farts say about "the game went on before he was here and it will go on after he's gone". The statement is true, but so is that fact that as an industry, professional golf is worth a hell of a lot more money since Tiger showed up.
Sorry to see Ernie miss out on a Masters spot. I hope he can win next week and get in, but frankly his putting just looks too dodgy these days for him to close one out. Sad, really. He was such a good putter in his day.
posted by JJ at 07:24 AM on March 26
Interesting idea. Obviously fuelled by TV ratings, but probably a better way to do it. I'm not sure what the stats are in the US, but I know in Europe the number of people who have gone from pre-qualifying through Q-school and actually made it onto the top tour in one go is in single figures in the last 20 years anyway.
posted by JJ at 01:31 PM on March 21
grum - just had a look through the Wiki for the montage. Some expansions, a confirmation and a correction below:
2:44 - CORRECTION - it is Payne Stewart, but it's him holing the winning putt at the US Open in 1999 at Pinehurst, not the Ryder Cup later that year at Brookline. The moment is now immortalised by a bronze statue at the club. He died later that year when the private plane he was in lost cabin pressure, killing everyone on board.
3:38 - EXPANSION - Watson's caddie (Bruce Edwards) said to him before the shot, "Just get it close" and Watson replied, "Get it close, hell. I'm going to sink it."
3:58 - CONFIRMATION - That was Agassi moments after winning Wimbledon for the first time in 1992 (his first grand slam). He beat Ivanisevic in the final in five sets.
4:50: - EXPANSION - Jack Nicklaus holing his birdie putt at the 17th at Augusta on his way to shooting 30 on the back nine to win his final (18th) professional major title, and his 6th Masters. Sports journalist Thomas Boswell remarked: "Some things cannot possibly happen, because they are both too improbable and too perfect. The U.S. hockey team cannot beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics. Jack Nicklaus cannot shoot 65 to win The Masters at age 46. Nothing else comes immediately to mind."
6:21: - EXPANSION - Tiger Woods celebrating after a hole-in-one at the 16th hole at TPC Scotsdale in the 1997 Phoenix Open. He would go on to win his first Masters (and first professional major) three months later.
posted by JJ at 01:20 PM on March 21
PG Wodehouse reminiscing about his lost golfing youth in the Guardian at the age of 91 in 1973. "... if only I had taken up golf earlier and devoted my whole time to it, instead of fooling about writing stories, I might have got my handicap down to under 18."
posted by JJ at 10:06 AM on March 15
He took on Butch Harmon in 1993, who changed his swing a little from his junior swing (took out some of the lateral movement), then he switched to Hank Haney (who put back some of the lateral movement) and now he's with Sean Foley (who seems to have found a bit of a middle ground). Within those three coach changes, he's also had at least two periods of "we're rebuilding my swing" but he hasn't changed coach, so I'd put it at about five major changes.
What Alliss meant though was that he'd have to change his swing in such a way as to reduce the stress on his body. Haney's changes in particular did precisely the opposite and he ended up loading up that left leg and the lower half of his back so much on the follow-through that injury was perhaps inevitable.
Saw a statement today from Tiger saying it's only a strain this time and he hopes to be hitting balls again by the end of this week and fit to play at Bay Hill next week.
posted by JJ at 09:15 AM on March 13
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