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Howling Wind and Driving Rain? Must Be the British Open

July 21st, 2017 · No Comments · Golf

I worked with several Scots while in Abu Dhabi. One day I asked one of them why Scotland is so bad in cricket. He looked at me like I should already have known the answer.

“Because we never get enough good weather to finish a match,” he said.

The best golfers in the world got to experience some of that brusque British weather today, and they weren’t even in Scotland.

About two years of every five, the British Open is played in England, and this is one of those years. The golfers are playing near the coast of the Irish Sea in Southport, a bit north of Liverpool, and the poor golfers got heaping helpings of Scottish weather without actually visiting the north end of the island.

Which actually is a big part of making the British Open interesting. Golfers can be nearly sure of at least one day of awful weather which separates the men from the boys … or the Brits from everyone else or the luckiest from the best.

In this case, Justin Spieth survived pouring rain and wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour at Royal Birkdale to hold a two-shot lead over fellow American Matt Kuchar.

It was the sort of weather that would keep an Angelino indoors. Actually, it might have kept a lot of people in “sunny” London indoors, too.

Said Charl Schwarzel: “I’ve always found it very difficult in these conditions. I said to my caddie, as much as you want to challenge yourself, really it’s just luck. You’re hitting these shots, and the ball is just going wherever.”

“Yesterday, with a little bit of a breeze, you can really play golf and move the ball. The way it was out there, it’s not much fun.”

This was the weather report ahead of today’s second round:

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French Vacations, Conformity and Jammed Roads

July 20th, 2017 · No Comments · France, tourism, Travel

This is odd.

When the French take vacations, they nearly always take them in late July and August, and they overwhelmingly take them in their own country.

Which means those of us in the south of the country, where the dependable sun is, can expect a major influx of visitors from the north choking the major roads.

But it comes with a twist.

Much of the mass migration comes on the same handful of days. Which just seems silly.

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And Then a Water Polo Match Broke Out

July 19th, 2017 · No Comments · Football, soccer, World Cup

Things got weird in the U.S. versus El Salvador soccer match in the Gold Cup last night a game won 2-0 by the Americans.

Both Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez alleged they were bitten by Salvadoran players and Altidore said he also had his nipple twisted by his biting attacker, Henry Romero.

(Embedded at this link is video of the incidents involving Altidore.)

The U.S. Soccer Federation apparently has a photo of teeth marks in the shoulder of Gonzalez and has turned it over to officials of the continental championship.

It led to some amusing/damning quotes from the U.S. side.

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Dodgers on Pace for Club-Record 110 Victories

July 18th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

It all has seemed strange and magical.

Twenty-two games into the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 10-12. They already had injury issues and it looked as if they would have their work cut out for them in a division where the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies looked formidable, even if they were the preseason choice to win the NL West.

On June 1, they were in third place, and on June 7 they were 35-25 after losing three in succession and five out of seven.

Since then?

Excellence. Dominance. Craziness.

The Dodgers have won 30 of their past 34 games to climb to 65-29.

Tonight they won their 10th straight, 1-0 in south Chicago, to give them two 10-win runs already this season. They hold a 10.5-game lead in the NL West with 68 to play.

How did this happen?

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And Stay Off My Lawn!

July 17th, 2017 · No Comments · NFL

I love it when onetime brash young athletes emerge as critics of “kids these days”.

Whether it is Charles Barkley going on and on how he and other players back in the day (the 1990s, I suppose) would handle LeBron James … to Jeff Kent being driven to distraction by the antics of a young Matt Kemp when both played for the Dodgers …

In this case?

It is retired quarterback Michael Vick, now 37, suggesting that unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick needs to cut his hair if he wants to get with the program. Anyone’s program.

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All Hail Roger Federer

July 16th, 2017 · No Comments · Tennis

Complimenting Roger Federer is as easy as rolling out of bed and hitting the floor.

So skilled! So classy! So durable!

So clever! So reliable! So eternally youthful — in that he does not seem to have gained or lost a pound since he took over the men’s game in 2003 and still has (nearly all of) his hair a few weeks short of his 36th birthday.

That is a record eight Wimbledon titles for Federer, a record 19 major titles across the four big tournaments, and isn’t he something?

Since those who came to praise him have been rolling out of bed all day today, I thought it might be interesting to take a contrarian stand.

To wit: This was the easiest Wimbledon competition Federer will ever see, and probably the easiest gentlemen’s singles competition in a half century.

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Recapping: How Big Would Venus Have Been without Serena?

July 15th, 2017 · No Comments · Tennis

Venus Williams. Hell of a career. Seven major tennis championships. Five Wimbledon championships.

Former world No. 1. Playing professionally since age 14, in 1994.

And Wimbledon finalist today at the age of 37, with a chance to become the oldest women’s singles champion at the All England Club.

She had an opportunity to pull a switch and polish her resume while throwing a little bit of shade on sister Serena’s; it was the younger sister who set the “oldest champ” record just last year.

But as she had happened so many other times, Venus fell just short when compared to Serena — who almost single-handedly has kept the older sister from one of the greatest careers in the women’s game, as outlined at the link.

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The ‘Olympic Express’ and the Sarajevo 1984 Travel Nightmare

July 14th, 2017 · No Comments · Olympics, Road trip

I survived some ridiculous road trips as a professional journalist but nearly all of them were my own damn fault.

The Saturday night/Sunday morning back-to-back football road games. (Tempe to Minneapolis by way of Dallas; Tuscaloosa to Houston by way of Atlanta.) Doable. Just.

The 730-mile early January drive from San Bernardino to Grand Junction, which was to continue with 240 more miles over the Rockies to Denver for an NFL playoff game the next morning; the red-eye to San Jose, Costa Rica, from LAX via Houston for a U.S. soccer World Cup qualifier. (Not doable. Those two ended in failure, one stop short of my plan.)

My own fault. How it usually worked.

An exception? The most prominent in my memory was the trip from southern California to Sarajevo ahead of the 1984 Winter Olympics. I was told to sign up for the Associated Press Sports Editors charter, and it was at least as screwy as anything I ever invented.

It strikes me that even now, 33 years later, that many of the work-related nightmares I still have include scenes that I would have encountered on a  two-day journey to the Balkans and what is now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Hurrah! A Yank in a Slam Semifinal!

July 13th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, Tennis

OK, maybe it has been about homerism.

I have a fairly strong recollection of a time when I was more interested in men’s tennis than I am now. A decade-plus ago.

Which would coincide with what turned out to be the end of American significance among the world’s elite male tennis players.

U.S. men’s tennis fell to such a lowly state, for the first time in the history of the game, that the march of Sam Querrey to the semifinals of Wimbledon this week … is the first time a Yank has been in the last four of a slam event since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon 2009.

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The Local Winery’s Open House

July 12th, 2017 · No Comments · France, Travel

This is the sort of thing that boggles the minds of Californians. Well, actually, just about anyone from America, the land of mediocre $30 bottles of wine, as well as tasting sessions that offer five tiny pours for $15-to-$25.

Imagine a local winery that lets visitors taste as many as seven wines.

Less than a mile from where you live.

At no charge.

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