Monday, June 19, 2006

Phil the Tank...and a few other thoughts

posted by David Mandel

Watching what transpired on the 72nd hole at Winged Foot Yesterday was like watching that famous scene in Old School where Frank returns to Frank the Tank. “I’ll do one!” Frank insists. Well, we all know what happened to him; one became several and next thing you know we can see Frank’s bum on Main Street and he’s searching for the nearest fried chicken establishment.

Can’t you just see a couple fans urging, “Come on Phil…You can hit that 200 yard cut 2-iron over the first tree and under the second!” New Phil saying to himself, “Nah, chip out and make par or bogey,” then finally Old Phil going, “Alright, I’ll do one! I’ll do one,” then “Once it hits your lips it’s so good” and following one tree-ball with another impossible mile-high offline travesty landing in a fried egg in the bunker, followed by what was in actuality a pretty good out from there and then a terrible effort at chipping in. Next thing we knew Phil was at KFC with no trophy, no dignity and saying “Man, I am an idiot!”

We can dissect Phil’s decision- making for years, and undoubtedly we will, but just like Van de Velde in ’99, blame here rests on the caddy, or as he likes to be called “Bones.” In ’99, Van de Velde’s caddy probably put on the worst exhibition of human performance at any craft in history of the world. The fact that VdV had to make only a triple bogey and his caddy couldn’t have handed him the 6-iron a few times is inexplicable. Same goes for Bones yesterday. Phil and Bones have got to be thinking they can beat Ogilvy in a playoff, so chip out, try to get up and down, and if not, play Monday. To Phil’s defense, he’s probably got a lot going through his head at that point. For Bones to allow him to hit the first, second, and third shots on 18 is just inexcusable.

For the golf fan today, it’s kind of difficult to even know who to feel bad for today. Phil will be at the center of attention, no question. But you gotta feel for Monty. He won’t be in that position ever again. And from where he was in the fairway on 18, par was a formality, birdie a distinct possibility. Rightfully, he felt like he had to make his bomb putt on 18 to tie Phil. If only he had known that two-putting would have gotten him into a playoff, he could have lagged and tapped in. What if? What if? What if Jim Furyk hadn’t taken 46 looks at his 4-footer on 18 and just gone about his normal routine? What if Padraig Harrington had coasted in with 1-over in his last 3 rather than 3-over? What if Ryuji Imada hadn’t hit the worst drive in the history of the sport on 16? What if Vijay had tried?

In the end though, Geoff Ogilvy was there to end the day as one of the most under-the-radar champions in golf’s history. And look out for him, cause he’s got the game and the poise to do this more than once.

* * * * *

On to other thoughts…

Yankee Stadium has got to be one of the worst stadiums in all of sports. I had the “privilege” of attending a Red Sox game there two weeks ago, and was left with nothing but bad impressions. It was my 5th trip to “The Stadium,” and all of the previous bad experiences came to a head.

Let’s start with simple things. They don’t sell salted peanuts. Honestly, who wants unsalted peanuts? It’s like ordering flat soda. Next, they don’t sell beer in the bleachers. At all other stadiums I’ve been to, if you want to get rowdy, have some beverages and feel a real ballpark atmosphere, the bleachers is where to sit. If you’re looking for a more family-style atmosphere, you sit elsewhere. The Stadium has it all backwards. Old hags and 15-year old obnoxious girls out past their bedtimes sit in the bleachers.

The security detail at Yankee Stadium is literally downright absurd. Prior to the game, I was threatened with ejection because I had my feet on the bleacher in front of me. Several others were similarly threatened. One patron was tossed for what I could deem was “displaying Red Sox hat to other patrons.” One member was tossed for starting a solo “Let’s Go Red Sox” chant. Several others dismissed for what I could only tell was “attempting to have fun.” At this point any fan that surrounded me that I caught smiling, laughing or using an outdoor voice, I warned that they would soon be ejected if they didn’t stop. If people are obnoxious, drunk, violent or otherwise disruptive, by all means, kick them out. But for god sakes it’s a baseball game, not a library.

And this doesn’t even begin to speak of the craphole the stadium is. No handles on the water fountains. Not enough urinals or stalls producing ridiculous bathroom lines. No seat backs on bleacher seats. The only stadium I’ve been to that’s worse is RFK in Washington. And that’s barely. Oh, and it’s also a football stadium.

By the way, the Red Sox won the game 9-3, so that didn’t taint this experience.

* * * * *

In my recent softball game, I was called out on a homerun for getting a high-5 from the 3rd base coach. “Touching the runner” was the call. This was grounds for one of my better mouthing off sessions of all-time. I don’t know why people don’t take more pride in their jobs. The base umpires in our league talk on cell phones during the game. They shun the traditional “letters-to-knees” strike zone in favor of a more “shins-to-plate” zone and as Jeffrey Tinker is so fond of saying, they let the rules control them. If the ball is 300-feet away and I’m rounding 3rd, unless Ichiro is playing left, I’m not gonna get thrown out. It’s even likely I’ll score without a throw. So don’t make that call.

* * * * *

How upset must the NHL league office have been when the Hurricanes and Oilers qualified for the Stanley Cup Finals? In a league floundering as is, they really needed like a Rangers-Red Wings final. Game 3 on NBC produced the network’s lowest-rated Saturday night ever! Under a million people watched!!! That is unbelievable!!! The finals of a (formerly) major sporting event drew under a million people. I could have turned off my TV and significantly altered the Nielsen ratings! Unreal. This opens the debate now for what (if anything) is the 4th major sport these days. I’m interested to hear my colleagues’ opinions on this. I would nominate golf, poker, car racing as the other three candidates.


Blogger Matt Marek said...

You are correct, Phil's loss should be put directly on the shoulders of his caddy. However, Bones allowing Phil to go for the green from the rough over a tree was a minor error compared to his other screw up.

Bones should have never allowed Phil to hit driver off the 18th tee. Phil hadn't hit a fairway on the back 9, and only 2 all day. If I'm Bones, I'd make Phil physically fight me for the driver on the 18th tee. Or I would just break it over my knee walking off the 17th green. Either way, as a caddy, there is no way you allow Phil to hit driver on that hole. 3 wood, 5 iron...give Phil the trophy and give Bones his props for making the correct call.

9:53 PM  

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