One-Toni Braxton is the most important thing to ever come out of Anne Arundel County. Two-the “You’re Making Me High” video taught 13 year old Glenn Clark things about sex he probably would have otherwise never learned.
I wouldn’t pay for tickets, but if someone wanted to offer me free tickets to Modern English, I’d honestly go.
Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t actually a thing anymore, but her return allows me the opportunity to post this amazing Third Eye Blind mix again…
There is no partnership more significant…in the world…than that of Tedeschi and Trucks.
Rick Reilly authored a terrific piece on Monday about Tiger Woods and his suddenly ice-cold major championship run that has left him at 14 majors since June of 2009. Not that Reilly and ****.com need more web-hits, but the piece is great and you can read it RIGHT HERE if you like.
Reilly hints around in the piece about the very subject I’ve been discussing with regard to Woods for the better part of a year now: It sure looks as if he’s lost his putting nerve in the only four tournaments that matter to him anymore — the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA.
That Tiger has won 13 times over the last five years – a helluva career for just about anyone else – during his major-less drought is a testament to the golfing ability he still retains.
But, make no mistake about it, putting on Sunday at Torrey Pines in late January is nothing at all like staring down a slippery five-footer at the U.S. Open in June.
Bobby Jones once said: ”There’s golf and then there’s tournament golf, and in no way are the two similar.”
What he meant, basically, is that anyone can go play a round of golf with their buddies…or tee-it up in the Tuesday night beer league at the local club — but playing in a golf tournament is a completely different, and more difficult, animal.
Well, the same goes for the greats of the game like Tiger Woods.
There’s playing well at Doral and/or Bay Hill and then there’s shooting 32 on the back nine at Augusta on Sunday to win The Masters, something Woods apparently is no longer capable of pulling off.
And the reason he can’t win a major these days is almost purely because of his putting.
To my eye – and I haven’t seen EVERY putt he’s missed in all of the majors since ’09 – it’s easy to tell that Tiger’s nerves are slipping because most of the make-able putts I’ve seen him miss have gone low of the hole, which tells me he’s quitting on the stroke at impact. A confident putter generally misses on the high side. Someone struggling to make solid contact at impact usually misses it low. I see Tiger missing a lot of putts low these days.
Back in 2006, at the height of Tiger-mania, I played in a U.S. Open qualifier with a journeyman touring professional named John Elliott, who will forever be part of a trivia question: ”Name the two players who played with Tiger Woods in his professional debut in Milwaukee in 1996.” One of those guys was the aforementioned John Elliott. Anyway, as Elliott and I walked down the 15th fairway at Eagle’s Nest, he made what seemed at the time to be an offhand comment about Woods that stuck with me that day and has really proved to be quite true now, in 2013. He said, “Tiger hasn’t missed a putt that’s mattered in his career. Never. Once he does, he’ll become just a regular decent putter again like the rest of us.”
It seems crazy to say that a guy who has 13 wins in the last five years has declined to that of a “regular decent putter”, but there’s putting in tournaments at Doral and TPC Sawgrass and there’s putting in tournaments at Augusta and Merion. They’re not the same, at all.
I was at Merion last Monday and Tuesday and I could distinctly sense tension in Tiger when I was around him on the range and in the media center on Tuesday. He was smiling a lot, but once a question turned to anything remotely close to “why haven’t you won a major title lately?” he quickly defended himself with a comment about having four wins this season and anything else he could say to deflect the obvious issue in front of him: he’s been stuck on fourteen major titles since 2009.
He’s quick to point out “winning majors is hard work”, but it wasn’t hard work for him from 1997 through 2009 when he beat everyone like a drum whenever he felt like doing it.
The 113th U.S. Open is in the books and history will show Justin Rose as the winner.
He did win the tournament.
But, the golf course the tournament was contested on was the real winner of the last four days. Only 6800 yards and located on a measly 111 acres, Merion was up to the task of challenging the best golfers in the world. Yes, it required the USGA to stick the pins in some questionable positions on a handful of occasions over the four days, but when you have 360 yard par-four holes, you can’t stick the flags right in the middle of the green or 10-under par will be the typical score. The par-3 third hole was made into a bit of a joke by the USGA, who decided Sunday was the right day to make it a 274-yard hole into the prevailing wind.
That said, when you’re trying to identify the best golfer in the country, it doesn’t hurt to throw a bit of unfair in there to see how everyone handles the friction of questionable pins, fast greens and a pace of play that bordered on silly.
All told — Merion wasn’t an ideal place for spectators, sponsors and, at times, even the players, but tee-to-green the course was among the most memorable spots for a U.S. Open over the last twenty years.
Here’s a quick analysis of the winners and losers from the 2013 U.S. Open:
Winner: Justin Rose — finally broke through to win a major title and get that proverbial “monkey off his back”. Like most major championships, this event at Merion was won by the guy who holed the most putts on the final day. Produced two glorious shots at the 18th hole on Sunday, a fitting way to end a 17-year English drought in major championship golf. Has the game to win any of the other three major championships.
Loser: Hunter Mahan — lost his golf swing in the final hour and went from tied for the lead to taking FOOOORRRRRREEEEVVVVEEEEERRRRRRR to play the final three holes. Someone needs to show him the “While we’re young” commercials. Still a player very capable of claiming a major title but until he does it, questions will loom about his ability to finish off winnable events. Seemed a little “too happy” at the end of the day on Sunday.
Winner: Phil Mickelson — didn’t win, but acquitted himself well on a day when three putts (#1, #2, #16) that coulda-shoulda-woulda turned out to be the difference between winning and losing. Two back-nine wedge shots (tee shot at #13, second at #15) were the ones that did him in, particularly the approach at fifteen which was right in his wheel house with a back right pin that favored his left-to-right ball flight. Dodged the question about Mahan’s slow play potentially distracting him on the final three holes, but it surely couldn’t have helped. Still, at age 43, proved once again he’s among the world’s best when it comes to playing tough courses in sometimes unreasonable conditions.
Loser: Luke Donald — spit the bit early, conking a girl in the elbow at the 3rd hole with his tee shot and never really recovering from that unnerving situation. Played as well as anyone on the back nine, but wasn’t a factor after such a tough start. Still without a major title and now has to start facing those Lee Westwood-type questions of “when are you going to win one?”
Winner: Jason Day — has been one of golf’s best performers in major championships over the last three years. Putting saved him throughout the back nine, but the missed 5-footer and bogey at #18 dropped him to +3 and made the final hole much easier for Justin Rose to stomach. Has become a much better driver of the golf ball, something that held him back when he first showed up on TOUR five years ago. He’s going to win a major soon.
Loser: Rory McIlroy — embarrassed himself by bending his wedge on the 11th hole after a less-than-stellar approach shot. Angrily threw a club earlier in the round after a poor shot, something the USGA will probably address with him in the form of a nice “reminder letter” that champion golfers aren’t expected to behave like that at U.S. Open events.
Winner: Billy Horschel — anyone who has the nerve to wear those pants in front of 25,000 spectators and a hundred million people watching on TV all over the world is a winner just for that alone. Did let his well-known temper get to him late in Saturday’s round and on occasion Sunday as well, but anyone who drives the ball that straight and that far is going to be heard from in major events for a long time to come. Didn’t putt well enough to win, but once he becomes a great putter he’ll be tough to beat.
Loser: Tiger Woods — it’s now five years since his last major title and there’s no relief in sight as long as he continues to putt like a 6-handicap in major tournaments. No matter what denials he offers to the media, his putting in majors isn’t nearly as solid as in “regular” TOUR events, which is why he’s no longer winning them. Never looked comfortable with the golf course from the first tee shot on Thursday. At least he didn’t embarrass himself with junior golf behavior like his Nike-mate, McIlroy, but that’s about the only positive he can take from this week’s event.
I’ve posted this video of Darius Rucker doing “Wagon Wheel” with Old Crow Medicine Show before, but just to remind everyone that I’m a Rucker guy-I’m posting it again. It’s the type of thing that doesn’t suck.
For not being remotely American, there’s quite a nice amount of Americana about Of Monsters And Men…
You may remember Rebirth Brass Band from their performance at the Howlin’ Wolf as part of WNST.net’s massive purple parties in New Orleans. I vividly remember the weekend as “The Greatest Weekend of My Life”…
Everything Kevin Van Valkenburg says is more important than everything I say. Kevin Van Valkenburg wants you to listen to Jason Isbell. For what it’s worth, so do I.
Honorable Mention: Auto Racing-NASCAR Federated Auto Parts 400 (Saturday 7pm from Richmond live on ABC); Boxing: Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson (Saturday 9:45pm from Oakland live on HBO); High School Football: Catonsville @ Perry Hall(Friday 7pm), Patriot Football Classic: DeMatha vs. Calvert Hall (Friday 7:30pm Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium), St. Peter’s Prep vs. McDonogh (Saturday 10:30am Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium), Landon vs. Annapolis Area Christian School (Saturday 1:30pm Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium), Don Bosco vs. Gilman (Saturday 7:30pm Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium)
I’m an unabashed Third Eye Blind fan. This tune rules. See you Saturday.
I couldn’t tell you if I enjoyed Joe Nichols. I can tell you that I enjoy sleepy little smiles…
Were you listening to “Web Junk” the other day when I played the clip of Boyz II Men singing “End of the Road” with Charles Barkley? Did you hear me singing along? You can assume I am again as you listen this time…
Sister Hazel is playing Arundel Mills on my birthday. Don’t ask. Just invite.
I once stumbled into the Ukrainian Festival after a Ravens game once a few years back. I couldn’t have had more fun. There was dancing, sausage and potato pancakes. It was a lot like my 13th birthday party…except we did all of those things at the old Funjungle in Perry Hall.
And since there’s at least half a chance I’ll forget to say something about these guys during the course of RennFest, I should probably do it now. These guys are Hack and Slash. They’re humorous fellas…
I like Donald Glover on “Community” (Six seasons and a movie!) and all, but I was always skeptical about him as a performer. But honestly, not bad (lyrics NSFW)…
Quick. Favorite Counting Crows song ever. I’ll go with this…
Wale and Kevin Durant have something in common. I like them both a LOT but would like them a hell of a lot more if they weren’t Redskins fans…
Fiona Apple is coming to town. Anyone remember their awkward feelings about seeing her in her underwear in the “Criminal” video? I can’t tell you how confused I was about myself watching it the first time…
Ryan Chell and I are going to see That’s My Boy Tuesday night. It will probably make six billion dollars and everyone involved will get new cars. It used to piss me off because I don’t really find Adam Sandler’s shtick to be funny anymore, but there are a couple issues involved. One-Adam Sandler sat down with us at the Super Bowl and was really nice. He even opened up about my idol Chris Farley, which is something I found out later he really never does…
Two-over the past few months I’ve developed a unique friendship with Happy Madison star Peter Dante, who might be the best human being on the face of the planet. He’s the guy on the right below…
So now I hope the movie is funny and they make a billion dollars. Damn you, nice guys.
You’re going to have to indulge me on this one. I have no one to yell at and no incredible statement to make about a current sporting event.
Instead, if this column was called “Your Saturday Reality Check”, I would have gotten this perfectly to the date.
Ten years ago-Sunday, March 24, 2002-the University of Maryland met the University of Connecticut in the East Region Final (or the Elite 8 if you well) of the NCAA Tournament. The game was at the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University.
For full disclosure, I wasn’t there. It was my freshman year at the University of Maryland, but I didn’t make the trip. I didn’t make the trip to the Georgia Dome for the Final Four either, which is one of the greatest regrets of my still very young life. I actually think our own Luke Jones was at the game, but I’m just rambling now.
You certainly remember the shots that defined the game. The Terrapins trailed the Huskies 77-74 with just under four minutes to play as Caron Butler simply wouldn’t let UConn go away quietly. Juan Dixon calmly sank a three pointer from near the top of the key to even the game back up. Then in the final minute, a previously scoreless Steve Blake altered a play call in the huddle and used a ball fake to create an open three for himself to put the Terps up 86-80, effectively the final nail in the coffin of a 90-82 victory.
What I remember was how the game felt like the most intense college basketball game I had ever witnessed. While Gary Williams likely ruined an expensive suit due to sweat that afternoon, Glenn Clark also ruined a number of t-shirts and a pair of pajama pants. This was a game where neither team ever appeared to have the upper hand. Lonny Baxter was absolutely dominant in the paint against future NBA standout Emeka Okafor, but Butler’s 32 points kept the Huskies at Maryland’s heels all afternoon.
We’re planning to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the University of Maryland’s only basketball championship throughout the week on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. I’ve admitted regularly that I openly wept at Cole Field House that early April night (the anniversary of the championship is this Sunday for those scoring at home) in College Park. I had two goals for my life from about the time I was eight years old. One was to become a professional broadcaster, the other was to attend the University of Maryland.
Being a “Terp” was in my blood. My grandmother (a journalism teacher in Baltimore County and later professor at Morgan State University) is a University of Maryland alum. While I was too young for the Bob Wade era of Maryland basketball to mean much to me, the early years of the Gary Williams era (which were not always pretty) shaped who I wanted to be when I stepped on a basketball court at Chapel Hill Elementary School or Perry Hall Middle School. I pretended to be Evers Burns. I pretended to be Kevin McLinton. I ABSOLUTELY pretended to be Walt “The Wizard” Williams, Joe Smith, Keith Booth and Sarunas Jasikevicius.
I really had no idea I’d ever witness my heroes playing in a Final Four or for a national championship. I had felt the 1999 team (lead by Steve Francis) had a legitimate chance, but Erick Barkley and St. John’s extinguished those hopes in the Sweet 16. Just weeks before Maryland’s initial Final Four run in 2001 there were calls for the head of Gary Williams after an embarrassing streak of five losses in six games (including a “rock bottom” defeat at the hands of Florida State on Valentine’s Day).
But there was something about the 2001-2002 Terps that made you believe the entire time that team was capable of finally breaking through. The heartbreak of blowing a big loss to Duke in the Final Four the year earlier seemed to fuel them to an ACC regular season championship and back to that afternoon at the Carrier Dome. The confidence of an incredible group of upperclassmen was never lacking at any point during the season.
Maryland’s run to the National Championship was unprecedented. After an opening round win over Siena, the Terps faced a modern day “Murderer’s Row” of basketball programs as they ran through Wisconsin, Kentucky, UConn and then Kansas and Indiana. Maryland faced the highest seed they could possibly face in every round as a 1 seed (16, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1) as well. Yet somehow they never really seemed to be in danger of losing.
In the Final Four a huge second half lead was cut into by the Jayhawks, but it never appeared particularly nerve-racking. The Hoosiers briefly held a second half lead in the National Championship game, but a quick baseline jumper from Dixon turned the game back toward the favor of Maryland.
The only game that involved great drama was the UConn game. It was the type of drama that sees eight ties and seven lead changes in the final 13 minutes. It was the type of drama that almost could never be fairly described in words. (ESPN’s Dick Vitale described it as a “Maalox Masher” immediately after the game. He’s certainly a wordsmith if nothing else.)
It was the type of drama that made you think “whoever wins this game is winning a national championship” in the second half. At least it made me feel that way…and I was right.
To this day, this is still my absolute favorite game I’ve ever watched. More so than the Tennessee Titans/Baltimore Ravens AFC Divisional Playoff in 2001, more so than the Mike Mussina/Randy Johnson showdown at Camden Yards in Game 4 of the 1997 ALDS, even more so than the Andre Agassi/James Blake thriller at the 2005 U.S. Open. If your heart can take it, it’s worth reliving below.
I’m not sure mine can, but I’m still grateful for these memories some ten years later.