Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All-Star Tuesday Talkings (British Open Preview)

Yep, it's all star Tuesday so I'm writing, but I don't plan to write a single thing about the All-Star game because it's just so stupid. Let me get this straight, this game counts for something pretty important now, but the starters are still voted in by idiotic fans? And they take rosters of 33 freaking players on each team, and managers are bound by some stupid unwritten rule to try to play everybody? And you can't let any pitcher go more than one or two innings because if Roy Halladay hurts his arm in his third inning of work somehow every one will be mad at you even though he routinely goes nine innings every fifth day? It's like the collective league is Regina George and the manager is Gretchen Weiners.

I just don't get how something so far removed from real baseball can give such an advantage to a team in the quest to win the World Series. Seriously, if this rule was in place in '87 and '91 and the NL won the all-star game, we'd be sitting wondering if the Twins will ever win a World Series. I mean, I'm not exactly a huge fan of the random element they used to have but it's better than this - and better than giving home field advantage to the league that has a better record in interleague play, which I've also heard bandied about. That's also idiotic.

It's really simple. Home field advantage goes to the team with the better regular season record. That's how all the other leagues do it. Why? Because it makes a lot more sense to reward a team for a great 162-game season than it does to reward a team whose league won a stupid exhibition. And if you insist on keeping that dumb rule, then Gretchen Weiners has to stick up to Regina like that time she wore sweat pants to the lunch table. Throw Halladay three innings. Then throw Greinke three. Then go through the closers and end with Rivera. Bam, game. But they won't. It'll be one inning, one inning, one inning, and eventually either Tim Wakefield or Andrew Bailey will be in and it'll be tee-off time for the NL. Stupid.

What makes it even worse is that I actually get a little bit pumped up when they do all the fanfare before the game. They always give it a nice historical perspective, whether it's tonight's little St. Louis baseball mini-history or like the year they brought out Ted Williams and Willie Mays, it's a very nice touch and I enjoy it. Then the game starts and it's a big joke. Let's just move on to something else.

- I'm mainly writing tonight to give my half-assed British Open preview, much like my half-assed Masters and US Open previews, which didn't quite get the winners right. All that really means is that I am due. In the same tradition, I will give you my top ten (after Tiger) picks to win.

1. Steve Stricker. It's weird to pick a noted non-closer to win an event like the British, but it all seems to be in place for Stricker. Two wins in his last four events, including a win last week, and recent success at the Open, finishing 8th and 7th the last two years. No reason he shouldn't be right there at the end.

2. Ian Poulter. It's almost a certainty that Ian Poulter will be winning a major at some point, probably while wearing pink pants, and it makes a lot of sense that it could be this one. Poulter is a very solid Open player, topping off with a second place finish last year at Royal Birkdale, has been very solid in the other majors (31st, 20th, and 18th) and is having a good year.

3. Lee Westwood. Westwood isn't super, duper great at the Open, but he does have two top tens in his career and has made the cut the last three years, so he's not horrible either. He's familiar with links style golf, being a communist and all, and is getting hot at the right time, with a tie for 8th last week in the Scottish Open coming on the heels of a runner-up finish in the French Open.

4. Hunter Mahan. This guy is quietly playing some of the best golf of anybody right now, but at the same time is a bit under the radar since he hasn't actually picked up a victory. He has top 10s in his last three starts, has made the cut in every event he has played this season, and has top tens in both of this year's majors. He did miss the cut last year at the Open, which gives me slight pause, but last year was a rough one for him, and not only has he found his game again but two years ago when he was playing well he pulled a sixth place finish at Carnoustie.

5. Sergio Garcia. Usually this sexy son of a bitch would be my #1 pick after Tiger, but a slow and disappointing year so far has really left me scratching my head. Still, the spaniard is a wizard when it comes to the British Open, with six top 10s in his last eight attempts and he does seem to be getting his game figured out, notching a tie for tenth at the US Open and has played better across the pond than here in the States.

6. Henrik Stenson. This guy is another one who it feels like is just waiting to win a major, and could be set up to do it this week. He already won this year at the "fifth major", the Players Championship at Sawgrass, and has been in contention at pretty much every major recently, with three top tens in the last four majors. He's a cool customer, since like most Swedes he has no soul, so if he's in contention coming down the stretch he isn't likely to Van de Velde it up.

7. Rory McIlroy. It's weird to pick a kid this young to be a top contender at the Open, but he's just tough. This year his four toughest events have resulted in a Quarterfinal finish at the Match Play, a 20th place finish at both the WGC-CA and the Masters, and a tie for tenth at the US Open - clearly he's not intimidated. Add in the fact that he is ripping it up on the European Tour (fifth in the Race to Dubai), and it wouldn't surprise me to see him right in the thick of it on Sunday.

8. Jim Furyk. Boring? Predictable? How about we go with steady instead. Top 11 in five of his last six tournaments, made the cut in fourteen of his last fifteen majors, and two top fives in his last three Opens, with a tie for twelfth in the third. He did miss five straight cuts at the British from 2001-2005, which shows me that this kind of golf can swallow him up at times and keeps me from putting him any higher on my list, but I expect him to hang around and at least make a little noise.

9. Paul Casey. I was looking back at my Masters and US Open previews, and I picked this clown first after Tiger and second after Tiger and Furyk, and he rewarded me with a T-20 and a missed cut, but I still can't drop him all the way, especially at the British where he finished seventh last year. He absolutely dominated the Euro Tour early, and still leads the Race to Dubai, but has faded in recent weeks. I expect being back in Europe will rejuvenate him.

10. Justin Leonard. This is a straight up hunch pick, which I can't really justify. He's had success at the British, but his win and his runner-up were both in the 1990s. Since then he's missed the cut as much as he's finished top twenty (three each) and he doesn't come in particularly hot, with two missed cuts in his last three tournaments. But I'm feelin' it!

And that's it. Some notable names are missing. Geoff Ogilvy, Zach Johnson, and Luke Donald are both garbage at the Open. Paddy is the two-time depending champion, but he's missed the cut in four of his last five events, and his game is just not in the right shape here again. I don't think Anthony Kim is ready just yet, and the wunderkind of the early season, Nick Watney, has fallen back to earth. Cink is still gay, and Els and Goosen are too far gone. One sleeper I've seen mentioned somewhere is Martin Kaymer, a commie who comes in hot, having won the last two Euro Tour events. Don't believe it. He doesn't have that kind of game.

- Finally, hold on to your butts people, the Sci Fi channel is having the marathon of all marathons on Saturday, July 25th, and I can't wait. Unfortunately, the Egyptian is getting married that day and I am an usher, so I can't exactly watch live, but the Tivo will be a crankin'. Check out the schedule:

8am - Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep
10am - Croc
Noon - Super Gator
2pm - Lake Placid 2
4pm - Spring Break Shark Attack (third best shark movie ever)
6pm - Deep Blue Sea
8pm - Malibu Shark Attack (World Premiere!)
10pm - Eye of the Beast (Dawson in a Squid movie)

I'm tivo'ing everything on that list except for Lake Placid 2 and Deep Blue Sea, which are super lame. Expect an influx of Live Movie Blogs in the coming weeks, as long as I can get Mrs. W to watch a few of these.

Also, Sci Fi renamed itself SyFy for some unfathomable reason. Can anyone explain this one? Cutesy for the sake of cutesy? I really hope somebody gets fired for this. This is even worse than the time Itchy ripped out Scratchy's spine and played it like a xylophone, but got two different notes from hitting the same rib.

That's it for now. I would expect to see a more indepth preview from Faldo tomorrow some time, and if we're really lucky maybe Super Sioux Fan will send in a new post.