Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Golf Outings - Revisited

Well, once again our yearly golf trip up north was a rousing success and just about everyone involved had a great time. We even had a near hole-in-one. However, there are many mysteries that become apparent when you get home to your wife and kids. Each and every one of us at this year's golf outing probably faced similar questions upon their return home from the idyllic setting of a Northern Michigan summer. How is John's wife? How old are their kids? What does Dave do for a living? How's Scott's dad? Does Steve still work for Company X? How do they like their new house? What's his wife's name? How is Kraig doing without a spleen? How could you spend four hours on a golf cart with the guy and not know what he does for a living? Don't you guys ever talk?

So, in order to head off the intense cross-examination of the womenfolk after a long golf weekend, I propose that we fill out a questionnaire prior to next year's outing (and really, this could apply to hunting trips, fishing trips, poker nights, etc.) that answers all questions that the wives might have regarding our friends in the golf outing:

Graduating class year:
College degrees (and grad schools attended):
Spouse's name (if applicable):
Nickname in college, with explanation (if necessary):
Current city of residence (state if this is a new location or old one):
Current occupation (state if this is a new employer or an old employer):
Number of kids, with names and ages:
Recent significant accomplishments of kids:
Any recent health scares:
Any recent deaths in family:
Family vacations taken recently:
Family vacations planned in the near future:

Now that we've got that out of the way, as a public service, I've put together some acceptable topics of conversation on golf outings with other dudes:

- The hot beer cart girl, and what you'd like to do to her
- The ugly beer cart girl, and what's she'd probably like to do to you
- The frequency of your golfing activities
- Which of "the old gang" you run into or e-mail on a regular basis
- How much you suck at golf
- How lame Ted is
- Ted's mom
- Caddyshack
- Sexual conquests from the past
- How much better your kids are than their kids
- Sports of any kind
- Beer or hard liquor (and who needs a refill)
- Which way a putt breaks
- Which club you are using

And here are some unacceptable topics of conversation on golf outings with other dudes:
- The cart girl is about the same age as your daughter
- How much you love your wife, even if you do
- What type of product you prefer to use in your hair
- Religion
- How pissed off you are that a certain friend did not hire your firm to represent his client in a civil case
- In general, work related stuff is bad, but it's okay if it ends with something funny
- Wine (that's right, wine snobs - I'm looking at you)
- How you (or your team) are not getting enough strokes ("Who made up these handicaps? There's no way I'm a 15. I shot 105 last time I played.")
- Caddyshack II
- How cool it would be to get a hole-in-one (just like a pitcher who is pitching a no-hitter - you don't talk about it and jinx it)

I was a little disappointed in the general skepticism that many of the guys (100% Michigan alumni) showed regarding the RichRod era. Personally, as I have stated previously on this blog, I am excited and intrigued by the new coaching staff. I was not one of the guys calling for Lloyd's head, but I am genuinely optimistic about this season. Michigan is nowhere in the rankings, and teams may start out taking them lightly - at their own peril. The main strength of the spread offense is it's versatility. It exploits matchups. If the 6'5" TE is lined up against a 5'9" DB, you throw it to him. If the FB is in the flat against a smallish CB, toss the ball his way and let him mow the guy down like a road grader. If the DL is spread across the field, run thru the gaps. If the fancy-pants new offense does not get it done for some reason (the inexperienced offensive line is my biggest concern), the defense should be good enough to keep the Wolverines in most games.

Anyway, more in-depth analysis may come in a couple weeks, but for now, I'm still sticking with 9-3 as my prediction.

Please add more ideas for the questionnaire in the comments. I have almost a full year to come up with something for next year's outing...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tour de France

So the 2008 Tour de France is nearing its finish in Paris on Sunday. Top reasons most of you aren't even aware of this:
- Lance Armstrong has retired after winning SEVEN of these things and now gets more press for canoodling with Kate Hudson than getting on a bike
- Another American winner, Floyd Landis, was disqualified and failed in his appeal to clear his name from doping charges.
- It's in France, and you're probably more likely to know about the big WNBA brawl between Los Angeles and Detroit than a bunch of guys riding bikes.
- The only real coverage for it is on Versus, a tertiary cable sports station and its website (http://www.versus.com/tdf/)

Here are a few reasons why you should pay attention:

- These guys ride over 2,000 miles in three weeks with only two rest days
- Each stage (save the two time trials) is around 100 miles and the insane mountain stages include climbs that most of us wouldn't want to walk, let alone ride up on a bike
- It's not only an individual sport, but there are teams of nine riders each who work together to help their lead rider win
- The coverage on Versus is great. The announcers are fantastic and really make it interesting. If you catch yourself ever watching the travel channel, this is as good or better for promoting the French mountains and countryside
- The fans are nuts and love it. I'm really hoping to go see one in person in the future

I believe Lawman said he got to witness this awesome spectacle in person once. I'd love to hear more. These guys get going at speeds of over 50 miles an hour on their descents. They eat, drink and even piss on their bikes. They have arms leaner than a supermodel, but their legs can crank out wattage like you wouldn't believe. It's incredible. And regarding the whole doping mess that's practically brought down the Tour, they are more strict than ever and have a no-tolerance policy where they are actively seeking out anyone suspicious and subjecting them to random testing. A few riders were booted this year. It's crazy. Why if you know they're doing this would you put yourself in that situation. These riders have been fired from their teams without pay and banned from riding for the forseeable future.

Cadel Evans, from Australia, looks like he's going to overtake Carlos Sastre of Spain to win this, but he'll have to make up a 1:34 gap in Saturday's time trial. They say he's a better time trial rider. Sunday's final stage into Paris and the Champs-Elysees is more ceremonial than anything, where tradition has it that the rider that starts the day in the lead gets to finish with it.

I'm just getting more and more into cycling myself, but would love to hear other riders and fans comment and talk about their thoughts with the Tour and professional cycling.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mind Games on The Golf Course

We have a big golf outing this weekend, and I thought I'd explore some interesting ways to mess with your golf partners and opponents. I'm not talking about obvious things like coughing in the middle of a backswing, or dropping your club on the green as your opponent is about to putt or yelling "miss it" or throwing things. I'm talking about subtler stuff (some are obviously more subtle than others). This can be done in the name of gambling or simply for the sake of annoyance. They don't always have their intended effect, but they're fun anyway (sorry for the use of the masculine pronoun "he," but it takes too much effort to type "he or she" and "they" just doesn't sound grammatically correct):

  1. Come up with an arcane and complicated scoring system. This will throw any player off, as he is thinking about what each shot means to his overall score.
  2. Concede putts early, not late. When the round is just getting started, give him the three footers. When you're on the back nine, make him putt them out. Either that, or just randomly decide which putts to concede, so when he approaches the putt, he'll never know whether or not you plan to say, "that's good."
  3. Talk about how great his swing looks, and how he must have been taking lessons. This will lull him into feeling that he's good when in fact he sucks. Also, talk about how great he looked on the range and how everything he hit on the range was dead straight. "Hmm, I wonder why you're not hitting 'em like that now."
  4. Fart loudly at inopportune moments. On the tee as he's about to hit. When he's standing over a putt. This is not always under your control, but it's useful. "Did somebody step on a duck?"
  5. Stand in his field of view for all shots and make small quick movements. Stand right behind the hole while he's putting.
  6. Park the golf cart uncomfortably close to his ball. When he asks you to move the cart, back it up and relocate it to a spot directly behind him.
  7. Be a stickler for rules. Threaten to dole out penalty shots for violations, even though you have no intention of doing so - "Dude, you grounded your club in the sand trap. You know that's against the rules, right? Next time I'll have to penalize you." His next bunker shot is guaranteed to be a clunker.
  8. Talk about how fast (or slow) the greens are today, right as he lines up a putt. "Man, did you see what happened on Steve's putt? The greens sure are quick today."
  9. Mention the water hazard in front of him. "Dude, don't even think about the water. It's not even in play. Just put it on the green."
  10. Copious amounts of alcohol are always helpful...
  11. "Cut the hamstring on the back of his right leg, right at the bottom. He'll never play golf again - because his weight displacement goes back, and all his weight is on his right foot, and he'll push everything off to the right. He'll never come through on anything. He'll quit the game."

Okay, so the last one isn't so much of a "mind game," but it would work. Add your suggestions in the comments...

Monday, July 21, 2008

British Open Recap

Well, Greg Norman did it again. I was hoping he could hang on, but he got off to a bad start (three straight bogeys) and never recovered. In fact the result was eerily similar to his collapse in the 1996 Masters. Lets compare:

* Led in both 1996 and 2008 going into the final round. In 1996, by 6 and in 2008 by 2.
* Shot 78 in the final round in 1996. Shot 77 in the final round in 2008.
* In 1996, he was beaten by his playing partner Nick Faldo, and was outscored by 11 strokes. In 2008, he was beaten by his playing partner Padraig Harrington and was outscored by 8 strokes. Actually, when you are outscored like that, "beaten" doesn't really cover it. He was crushed.
* Lost in 1996 by five strokes. Lost in 2008 by six strokes.
* In both years, lost to a former winner of the tournament from the British Isles.

Oh well, so much for all the history-making events that were going to unfold on Sunday. It's too bad. I was rooting for Norman. But he looked like a totally different player on Sunday. He looked every bit like someone who was 1-for-8 with the lead entering the final round of a major. Now he's 1-for-9. Suffice to say, he's not a good frontrunner.

Just as a point of reference. Tiger Woods is 14-for-14 with at least a share of the lead entering the final round of a major. Unreal.

Incidentally, I am not trying to take away anything from Padraig Harrington, who played about as well as anyone could on the back nine yesterday. But Norman still handed him the title on a silver platter with his poor start and his inability to recover from it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Greg Norman

Believe it or not, Greg Norman is leading the British Open. He's put up two rounds of even par 70, and is the only player in the field that is not over par. Obviously, there are still lots of players out on the course that have not completed their second round, but if this stands up and he is at or near the lead after today, he will be in position to become the oldest major winner ever. The previous oldest was not, as I thought it would be, Jack Nicklaus. Jack was a couple months past his 46th birthday when he won the Masters back in 1986. The oldest major winner was actually Julius Boros, who won the PGA championship in 1968 when he was 48 years old. Greg Norman is 53 years old, so winning here would shatter the old record by five years.

In his younger days, "The Shark" was always known as somewhat of a choker, and was also the victim of two of golf's most amazing major-winning shots (my boy Bob Tway holing out from the bunker in the 1986 PGA, and Larry Mize chipping in the 1987 Masters). In 1986, Norman held the lead in all four majors after the third round of play, but only managed to win the British Open. Norman is one of only two players to have competed in playoffs in all four major championships (the other is someone named Chris Wood, who also lost all of them). He doesn't even really play much anymore (he's only played in 3 Senior Tour events since he turned 50), but he just married Chris Evert, one of my first boyhood crushes (come on, admit it - compared to other female tennis players in her day, she was pretty hot). And she still looks pretty good.

Anyway, here's hoping that The Shark can hang on and make history. The Open has always been his favorite event, and the one in which he's had the greatest success (two wins). Perhaps with Ms. Evert in his corner, he won't choke it away this time. For someone with a fierce nickname like "The Shark," he's never been much of a killer.

UPDATE: John Daly is +14 for the day thru 14 holes. He took a nine on the par 4 13th hole. Ouch. I can't wait to see the highlights of that one on the golf channel tonight.

UPDATE: Daly finished with an 89 today. He shot a 49 on the back nine. Holy crap. Worst round of the championship by four shots. At least he finished his round.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The British Open

Last year's British Open (or "The Open Championship," as Brits smugly refer to it) was like most other British Opens. It featured unlikely leaders, odd bounces, and strange occurances. This year's Open begins tomorrow, and here are my predictions for this week at Royal Birkdale (in case you have not heard, Tiger will not be there):
  1. The first round leader will finish ten shots behind the winner and will be an unheralded European Tour or Asian Tour journeyman (Peter Baker, Nick Dougherty, Hideto Tanihara, etc.).
  2. Someone unexpected will win. Past winners include Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton, and Paul Lawrie - and that's just in the last ten years. The Open always has lots of names that we Americans have not heard of because the participants come from all over the world, not just the US PGA tour (Hennie Otto? Who the hell is that?).
  3. Ernie Els will finish in the top 5. He's finished fourth or better in six of the past eight years.
  4. John Daly will shoot at least one round of 78 or higher (par is 70 this week).
  5. John Daly and Angel Cabrera will smoke four packs of cigs between them in the first round.

You didn't expect me to pick a winner without Tiger in the field, did you? Fine. I'll pick Boo Weekley. Happy now?

Fun with Names
In looking thru the names in the field, I thought it might be mildly interesting to come up with some pairings that the BBC announcers, with their dry Brit humour, could have some fun with:

The Adverb Group - Daly, Weekley, and Baddeley
"Daly struck that putt weakly and it turned out very badly."
"Baddeley and Weekley have been working out daily in preparation for The Open."

The Weather Group - Blizard, Storm, and Frost
"Storm has played well, but Blizard has been blinding."
"Frost has icewater in his veins."

The Fruit Group - Appleby and Appleyard
"Wow, that shot by Appleby was delicious."
"Appleyard's shot did not fall far from the tree."

The Barnyard Group - Horsey, and Lamb
"Horsey has a long face after that tragic treble bogey."
"Lamb's got to start cooking if he's going to make the cut."
"That was a baaaaaad putt by Lamb."
"Horsey took a run at the tricky 20-footer, but the golfing gods said 'nay'."

Fun with Photos
With apologies to the "men who look like old lesbians" website, these photos from the Open Championship website appear like they could be interchangeable with some pictures of LPGA golfers:

And this guy has the goofiest photo in the bunch - he looks like he's about 12 years old.

And last but not least, there is a golfer in the field by the name of David Smail. If I had a dollar for every time this line will be uttered in his proximity this week, I think I'd be a fairly rich man.

"Fifty bucks the Smail kid picks his nose."

Enjoy the tournament this weekend.

Go Boo!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ohio State ticket shenanigans


This sounds pretty crazy to me. OSU is implementing a lottery system for tickets.

Now, any dues-paying alumni association member who applies for tickets must be chosen and assigned to a game at random and may then purchase two tickets, under the lottery system announced in the spring. The process is the same whether the person has been buying Buckeyes football tickets for half a century or never tried to get them before.

I know this would not sit well with those of you with Michigan season tickets. How would you like to get stuck with two tickets to the EMU game? Or get shut out entirely, like this guy?

Still, he's luckier than David Alexander, a 20-year ticket buyer who's among 4,500 applicants -- 10 percent of the total -- shut out completely this year.

I hope this is not indicative of a possible future at Michigan Stadium. It would be a shame if the concept of seniority is totally lost.

Go Blue.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I certainly support Michigan Football as an avid fan, but this Rich Rodriguez saga just smacks of all the disgusting aspects of big time sports. Money, money, money. I know that is where it has all gone and it is reality, but I don’t have to enjoy it. Especially when one of the last bastions of “purity” - Michigan Football - has to be dragged through it all (in quotes because the ‘old’ Michigan was driven by money, just on a different scale). All’s well that ends well? Well, I am not so sure that Michigan forking over $2.5 is ending well, but suckers like me paying for seat licenses, tickets, and sweatshirts are footing the bill. Even bigger suckers will be stepping up to the plate to buy boxes, club seats, and whatever Michigan decides to hawk. The entire sports and entertainment world is vile, but we keep coming back and throwing our money at them.
Money aside, the manner in which RR left his alma matter is questionable at best, despicable at worst. He may be a great football coach, but I do not like the way he went about his business. Why anything surprises me anymore, well…surprises me! Not much is sacred anymore, but it is what it is.
It sure will be nice when we actually start playing football instead of hearing about lawsuits and conditioning programs. Well, maybe on week two it will be – after ESPN inundates us all with App State lowlights.Go Blue!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dr. Obvious Speaks

This year's "winner" Joey Chestnut, enjoying a holiday weiner.

This week's winner for the quote containing the least amount of new information comes to us from Dr. Marc Siegel (now forever to be known as "Dr. Obvious"), a professor at the New York University School of Medicine. This could become a regular feature if people continue to be quoted by news services with stuff like this (this is from the AP):

"Hot dogs are extremely unhealthy, especially when eaten at high volume. They're really processed. They have high cholesterol and too much salt," he said. "One is bad for you, five's worse and 50 is terrible," he said.

In case you were unaware, this quote is in reference to the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest held annually on July fourth weekend at Coney Island in NYC.

In other news, running with the Bulls is risky:

Any other obvious news you'd like to point out? Leave it in the comments...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Play safely this weekend. Don't blow yourself up....