Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kinda Sorta How I Thought

Technically, I was right about the way The Masters played out. The top three players after three rounds held their grip on those spots and the winning score was lower, relative to par, than the leading score on Saturday night. The gamers I predicted would hold on to the lead did exactly that. And anyone who shoots under par while in the hunt in a major--to say nothing of having the best player ever breathing down your neck--deserves his props.

That said, I admit to being surprised at the charge that Tiger and Phil put into the proceedings. When Phil turned in 30, all the energy was with their pairing. No one in the lead had done anything of note and you felt that something unbelievable just might be possible. But then Phil, inexcusably, put it in the water on 12 and the game was pretty much over. The leaders withstood the charge and by the time they made it to 13, the storyline was once again all about them.

It may not have been what the masses would have hoped for. But it was a fun ride and Cabrera is a worthy Masters champion.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sunday Shootout

You probably have to be a pretty serious golf fan to appreciate the leaderboard at The Masters heading into tomorrow's final round. Tiger and Phil are both 7 shots back and if those guys aren't in the mix, many casual observers don't really care. But while the final two groups may lack something in star power, they are full of some fairly grizzled veterans and for that reason, I expect a pretty exciting finish. In fact, I'll be surprised if the winner comes from somewhere outside the last two pairings.

Kenny Perry is 48 and playing the best golf of his life. What does he have to lose? Angel Cabrera stared down Tiger a few years ago to win the U.S. Open. You don't do that if you can't handle the pressure. Jim Furyk has repeatedly shown that he can close the deal when he gets in the hunt. And no one with a swing like that makes a career in golf without some guts. And while Chad Campbell may not have quite the resume of the other three, he made his way from junior college to UNLV to the Hooters Tour to the Nationwide Tour to the PGA Tour and Ryder Cup team. Guy can grind it out.

None of them looks the part. But every one of them falls into the category of "last guy you'd want to play for the last $50 in your pocket." Who needs Tiger or Phil when you can have storylines like this?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Brewers Forecast 2009

It's a bit late to do anything that can be called a Brewers season preview. Alas, the season started yesterday with a 10-6 loss in San Francisco. And in any case, I don't really have much to add to the consensus assessment of Milwaukee's prospects for the year.

In short, it all depends on pitching (mostly of the starting variety). If Yovani Gallardo can deliver on his tremendous promise, if Manny Parra can pitch a complete season, if Dave Bush can maintain his level of last season, and if Jeff Suppan and/or Braden Looper can give them anything--anything at all--then the rotation may be just serviceable enough to contend. Those are all big ifs.

A less prominent theme, but one I'll be watching as the season unfolds, is how the young Brewer hitters mature at the plate. Corey Hart needs a good measure of discipline; Rickie Weeks needs to hit for some average; Ryan Braun needs to cut down his strikeouts; and it would help for Prince Fielder to maintain a more consistent power stroke. Those were all weaknesses through the latter part of last season and it will be interesting to see how things go this year.

None of this is news to any of you Brewer fans out there. Still, I feel like I have to get on the record with some thoughts.

I'm not much of a prognosticator (as anyone who was in my NCAA tourney pool can tell you). But if you put a gun to my head, I'd say the Brewers will finish behind the Cubs and Cardinals in what will be a very good NL Central. And I will be very surprised if they surpass last season's 90 win total. Of course, I rather like surprises.