Archives for posts with tag: US Open

Yes, the Nationals are in the midst of the early middle part of their season (not to be confused with the middle early part of their year).  But this week, month, season and year have been swiped away by the Washington Capitals and their first ever NHL championship.  Last Thursday, the Caps captured the Stanley Cup by rallying on the road at Vegas.  And downtown Washington, DC came alive in an incredible melting pot of fans from all over the metropolitan area.  So while the Nats make their charge towards a potential fifth postseason in seven years, let’s marvel at the force of nature that was the Caps since April 12.  And sit back as these guys celebrate.  A championship in the major professional sports (sorry Kastles and United) hasn’t happened in DC since 1992, when the Redskins were the only local pro team to actually play its games in the District.  Amazing how things change as the ‘Skins are the ones who are now outside city limits.  And this is the FIRST in franchise history.  Before Philadelphia won the 1974 Stanley Cup, Flyers coach Fred Shero wrote on the dressing room chalkboard: “Win today and we walk together forever.”  Whatever happens this summer with player exits or next season as the Caps mount a title defense, this team will walk together forever.  So let’s celebrate was one magical spring.  Rock the Red…

Max Factor- according to ESPN.COM, the next home start for Max Scherzer falls on Thursday, June 21 against the Orioles. Plan accordingly.

You Can’t Spell Revolving Door with out “DL”- the Nats could be getting help at the plate with Daniel Murphy potentially returning this week as the DH at the New York Yankees.  Adam Eaton returned to the field Saturday and scored a pair of runs while batting 1-for-4.  But the DL taketh just as it giveth away, as Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Kintzler join the wounded.

Dissecting the Division- the Nats and Atlanta are tied after the Braves dropped four of six on their west coast swing.  Just like the Mets plateaued and then cratered could we be seeing Atlanta ebb a little?  It’s unlikely as the Braves’ next 14 games are coming against clubs with losing records.  Philadelphia has lost seven of nine to slide three games off the pace…and 15 of their next 18 games are against foes with winning marks.  The Mets and Marlins are a combined 4-13 this month to bring up the rear.

O’s Woes- pick your poison in the sweep at Toronto. Would you rather lose in extra innings on a bases loaded walk after stranding 13 on base like the Birds did Saturday?  Or get the drama out of the way early in a 13-3 loss Sunday when Alex Cobb coughed up nine runs and left in the fourth inning?  The O’s are a big league worst 19-45…and need to go 44-54 (.449 winning percentage for a team that’s winning 29.7% of the time so far this year) to avoid the dreaded 100-loss campaign.

Last Week’s Heroes- Anthony Rendon celebrated his birthday in style Wednesday by going 4-5 with 3 RBI.  Juan Soto continues to mandate playing time by going .333 with five runs scored.  Max Scherzer went 1-1 while striking out 22 and walking three.  Tanner Roark tossed a solid outing. Sean Doolittle notched two saves in two opportunities.

Last Week’s Humbled- Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Kintzler both land on the disabled list after short outings.  Pedro Severino went 0-for-12 at the plate.  Bryce Harper hit .190 with one walk and 7 strikeouts.  Trea Turner hit 4 for 21 with the bulk of his at-bats near or at the top of the order.

Game to Watch- We didn’t get any resolution in last month’s DC series with the New York Yankees, so here’s hoping there aren’t any rainouts this week.  Tuesday Tanner Roark is coming off of a solid outing and is actually better on the road (3.29 ERA) than at home (3.86) this year.  Ageless C.C. Sabathia might not be on pace to equal last year’s 14 wins, but has an ERA lower than any he’s finished with since 2012.

Game to Miss- Sunday Roark pitches in Toronto as the Nats wrap up their roadtrip.  But golf’s US Open takes center stage.  Sorry, Tanner.

Something about the air in June.  Schools are getting out and the pools are open (although the water remains frigid).  After a May where the weather made one want to listen to “Baker Street”, June has us rocking to Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend”- which after Memorial Day often begins on Thursday.  At noon.  The endless summer ahead has the Nats’ bats blowing up as well this month:  2nd in the majors in batting and runs scored.  The lineup that took a while to gel is finally finding itself and getting hot as the weather does likewise.  Break out the sunglasses and sunscreen.  

Digesting the Division- the sweep of Philadelphia gives the Nats a 39-24 record (tied for second best in the majors) and a four and a half game lead over the Mets.  New York is the only other NL East team not to have a losing record over its last ten games (5-5).  Their pitching alone (second in the majors in staff ERA) gives them sticking power throughout the summer months, while their bats (28th in runs scored) leave a lot to be desired.  The other three clubs?  Miami’s dropped two straight and 6 of 10, Philadelphia’s lost four straight and 7 of 10 and Atlanta just completed another 2-8 lurch.  Although let the record show that after taking 37 games to post nine victories under Fredi Gonzalez, they’ve only taken 25 games to notch 9 games under interim skipper Brian Snitker (who sounds like a minor character from the latter seasons of 90210).

Division to Watch- the team the Nats are tied with for the second best record in the bigs?  Your former Washington Senators, the Texas Rangers.  Ranking 7th in the majors in runs scored and 10th in ERA, the defending division champs are beginning to pull away.  Their five game lead over second place Seattle is the largest in the American League;  for comparison both fourth place teams in the AL East and Central are within six games of the leaders.  Houston, the Angels and Oakland are all under five hundred and resemble swimmers with anvils tied to their bellies.  While Nomar Mazara leads the club in hitting and home runs, it’s former National Ian Desmond who paces the Rangers with 42 RBI.  When Ian and the Nats parted ways it was a tough but necessary break…and there are many of those in and around the beltway happy for his safe landing.

Last Week’s Heroes- Jayson werth hit .500 with a homer and 8 RBI, jumpstarted Friday’s rally with a 2-run double and drove in the game-winning run Sunday.  He also had a sweet catch in left field Friday night to avoid more bleeding for what was a staggering Stephen Strasburg at that moment.  Danny Espinosa hit .429 with 3 HR. Prime pitching performances came in the form of Tanner Roark (7 strikeouts over 7 innings Saturday in the heat) and Max Scherzer (6 K in 7 scoreless against the White Sox Wednesday).  Some weeks you almost run out of gold stars and smiley faces.

Last Week’s Humbled- Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos have been hitting 5th and 6th lately, with the two occasionally being flip-flopped.  Last week was not awesome for either:  Zim hit .111 while Ramos batted .176 in prime RBI spots.  Joe Ross (5.09 ERA in two no-decisions) had two rough outings after winning his two previous starts.  Felipe Rivero (allowing a 2-run HR Friday against the Phils) and Shawn Kelley (16.20 ERA in two appearances) were less than stellar over the last seven days.  Blame the heat.

Game to Watch- Wednesday it’s the series finale for the duel of division leaders:  Stephen Strasburg pitches against the Cubs against Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.36 ERA).  After getting broomed in the windy city earlier this month, will the Nats have the necessary answers this time in DC?  Can Strasburg continue his incredible start and turn his record up to 11-0?  And will Bryce Harper see a pitch within five feet of the strike zone?

Game to Miss- Sunday Gio Gonzalez (four straight losses) and the Nats wrap up a series in Milwaukee against Drew Pomeranz (one win in his last five starts).  As if that wasn’t inspirational enough, the 4:40 gametime also seriously conflicts with the final round of the US Open.  In the one major championship that Tiger Woods was never able to successfully defend, can Jordan Spieth win back to back titles?  On the five year anniversary of his tear through Congressional, will Rory McIlroy return to reclaim his crown?  Or will 2016 be the year we finally see Phil Mickelson celebrate a Father’s Day triumph?  Sorry, Gio…

Golf is more about the competing against the course than other competitors.  But the course is not fixed…it’s a living, breathing organism.  Conditions are fair but not equal.  Wind can sometimes turn on a dime. The sun at 10am is different from the sun at 6pm. Rain can extend a round into the next day…with a tight turnaround for those finishing late.  And a full day of tread can wear down a fairway or green…for better or worse. And those are only the physical conditions.

Golf exists on multiple planes–including the now, the future and the forever. While everyone in this past weekend’s field was competing towards this year…a handfull were fighting two-front wars. And for some, the results won’t be known for a while. Because although everyone was playing the same course at Merion Golf Club–there were many courses competed upon.

Justin Rose was competing against a course of possibilities. Although the thirtysomething had built up a mild resume of sporadic victories plus occasional top five major finishes, his Sunday 71 secured him a spot as a Major Champion. Despite the stigma of “one over par”…Rose has his major.  He doesn’t have to retire wondering what he could have done differently…and anything else he accomplishes is gravy.

Meanwhile, the likes of Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Jim Furyk plus all the other one-time major champs were competing for gravy this past weekend.  Nobody who has a #1 hit wants to remain a one-hit wonder… just ask Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  Now instead of leaving the club-they have to welcome a new member.

Rory Mcilroy was competing against the course of rollercoaster expectations.  He’s got major wins and major meltdowns on his resume…and an underwhelming 2013 where things just don’t seem to be clicking.  And he’s still getting used to those new Nike clubs.  Remember after his US Open win at Congressional how silly the world was getting over him?  Since then it’s been one feast and more than a few famines:  his 2012 PGA Championship win was by 8 shots (just like his 2011 US Open victory) but he also posted 25th and 60th place finishes at the British Open, 25th and 40th place finishes at the Masters, a 64th place showing at the PGA and last year’s missed cut at the US Open before this year’s 41st place showing.  While nobody thinks he’ll be the next David Duval, you’d think the 2nd ranked golfer in the world would have at least more than one top 20 finish in two years.

Phil Mickelson was competing against a course of ghosts…runner-up finishes in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2011 marking his career as much as his three Masters and one PGA Championship win.  If he had won Sunday it would have been a fitting finish to a career that saw his first serious challenge for a major under the shadow of his wife due to give birth…because that child became the 14-year-old whose 8th grade graduation speech he caught before flying overnight to make his first round tee time.  Can you imagine if he had won?  Rumors of David Stern leaving the NBA for the USGA would certainly gain traction.  If Phil had held on Sunday he would have won on his birthday as well as Father’s Day.  Instead he continues down the final fairways of his career (this is just the 3rd time in 12 majors he’s posted a top 10 finish–a far cry from his peak period of 2004-06 when he notched 8 top 10’s and 3 wins over 10 majors) with the great prize eluding him.  

Tiger Woods was competing against a course of history…while fighting off a narrowing window.  A few years ago it appeared as though reaching Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championships would be a cinch…but now his drought has reached 5 years and counting.   And every tournament he doesn’t win gives one cause to think that 2008 wasn’t the most recent one…but the last one.  Tiger was 32 that day at Torrey Pines…and while Jack Nicklaus won 9 of his 18 after turning 32, there’s no guarantee of continued greatness.  Arnold Palmer was only 34 when he notched his last major victory at the 1964 Masters.  Tom Watson’s run to double-digit titles was derailed in the early 80’s–his last win coming at age 33 in the 1983 British Open.  I know Tiger’s in great shape and is extremely focused on his game-and you’d think his winning window would last up to around age 50-but nobody thought Palmer and Watson would stop winning when they did.  And now with a strained elbow Tiger tries to get healthy for the British Open.  Jack Nicklaus had two distinct eras of dominance (1962-67 and 1970-75) where he won 7 majors;  followed by 4 victories in the sunset of his career (1978-86).  Tiger’s enjoyed two peak eras (8 major wins from 1997-2002 and 6 from 2005-08)…and one wonders not when the next run will occur but if we’ve missed the sunset somehow.