Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Tiger? No Vijay? No Wow Appeal

Let me begin by stating clearly that I enjoy the Buick Open. I think it is a viable event. I am glad it is at Warwick Hills, which I find to be an improved and underrated course. And no, I have no problem that the greatest golfers in the world tear it up on an annual basis. It’s kind of refreshing after watching them struggle so in the recent U.S. Open.
My problem is more with the PGA Tour, and how it tends to hurt an event like the Buick Open. They changed the dates this year. The tournament is positioned in a less favorable spot in regard to drawing top players. They aren’t using it as a stepping stone between the British Open and the PGA like in the recent past. And they are taking time off after the U.S. Open. So, really, the Buick’s field isn’t attractive. Only three of the Top 25 players in the world. And with all due respect to Trever Immelman and Charles Howell - few know who they are. John Daly and Jim Furyk are the best draws. Who is not there? You begin with Tiger Woods, the defending champion, whose win was so thrilling last year. His wife just had the couple’s first child. Even his Buick affiliation can get Tiger there under those circumstances. No Vijay Singh. He and Daly had an epic battle down the stretch a couple years ago. And after that, the Tour lacks wow appeal - period.
It didn’t used to be that way. There were golfers besides the big stars - from the Ben Hogan-to-the Arnold Palmer-to-the Jack Nickluas-to-the Tom Watson eras that carried fan appeal. Julius Boros, Calvin Peete, Miller Barber, etc. Fans identified with them. It’s why the Senior Tour sustained itself, at least until those type of players aged, and the Senior Tour started to suffer the same troubles as the regular tour.
Tiger is great, but he alone can’t maintain the PGA Tour at the status it once carried. There has to be a little more. Or there will be weeks - too many of them - like this one in Grand Blanc when there is kind of an empty feeling.

A Reminder

- Within the next week or two, I will begin doing audio commentary podcasts at theoaklandpress.com. Please check them out and feel free to comment about them on this blog.

Random thoughts

- The only question I have about Greg Oden going first overall in the draft is whether the NBA is a big man’s league any more. Tim Duncan is more of a power forward than a center. Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t the real force behind Miami’s title - Dwyane Wade was. And the Pistons won their title with undersized center Ben Wallace, who also can be classified as a power forward. I’d certainly be tempted to take Kevin Durant. He is pretty special.

- Sorry, but it’s gotten to the point where the Tigers just can’t trust Jason Grilli with any kind of lead anymore. His roster spot is pretty valuable about now, too. Would Zach Miner do better in that role?

- The Yankees are two games below .500. It might be getting a little late for any miracle comebacks.

- I don’t know whether it is good or bad the Tigers are home for this extended stand. For some reason, they are just two games above .500 at home. They should have a big home field advantage because the spaciousness of Comerica Park tends to freak out opposing outfielders.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told you so. B-Bque Grilli is a waste of space. Ship him out.

3:25 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

There is another tier of superstars on their way up - who learned to play "the Tiger" way - but they have not yet established their names - like you said.

Yeah - tour events do not hold interest to me if Tiger is not playing.

You might have thought the boys at the Nike - Buick marketing machine would have insisted that Mr. and Mrs. Woods follow better timing considerations before allowing such a pregnancy to take place. I bet heads will roll for that one.

Sorry - can't comment on the Grilli incident last Night. I'm in Toronto on biz. I watched the score on the ticker back and forth - so I know we lost it in ninth - and that spells bullpen.

Our archilles heel.

I'm really looking forward to your podcasts - I have a lot of friends I would like to share them with.

I feel very out of touch up here.

3:33 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Good Evening Book,

How do I go about getting a copy of Ernie Harwell's audio tales book? I remember you talking about it over the winter and I think I need to obtain this before I forget again.

Go figure on the Tigers home record. I was positive before the home stand started that they would go 9-4 at the least 8-5. After dropping the first two games, especially the way the bullpen performed, I have to wonder.

I do agree with you about Jason Grilli's spot on the roster. He does have to regain the form that made him the consistent and reliable middle reliever he was last year. But like the entire relief staff, I'm hoping that he can string together three or four good performances.

Never count the Yankees out until they are truly out. I know they don't have much pitching. Yet like the villian in a B horror flick, they never seem to die.

7:55 PM 
Blogger Eric Chase said...

Pat, I agree with you that the NBA isn't a big man's league anymore. Even the good big men like KG and Dirk excel and rely on their mid range games as much as they do on scoring in the paint. But on the other side, I'll say we haven't seen a defensive minded, back to the basket kind of player like Oden come from college in such a long time. In fact I can't think of the last player to come out like that, can you?

11:36 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

I think that Leyland and Dombrowski are afraid to waive Grilli, because he has such good stuff. A mid 90's fastball with some good offspeed pitches looks pretty good coming out of the bullpen, but he has really sucked it up this year. If he threw in the low 90's, I think he would already be gone, but they don't have another arm like his to replace him (except maybe Eulogio De La Cruz, but he hasn't shown that he can handle that situation yet.)

9:11 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

anonymous,
He is hurting the Tigers badly at this point and needs to pitch better pretty soon or they will lose patience with him.
Caputo

9:30 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
There are a new generation of stars? Who? To me it is a bunch of nobodies. And it is getting worse each year. One thing I have learned from my visits to Toronto is TSN is pretty good in the winter because they do such a great job with hockey, but otherwise they are lacking compared to ESPN. Do like the coverage of junior hockey. Sports talk radio up there isn't bad.
Caputo

9:34 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Eric Chase,
How does a team adjust its game for Oden? He does have some offensive talent. It might be excellent in a year or two. He can make free throws, too, which a lot of the better big guys lately haven't been able to do. But I wonder, too, if he doesn't develop more into a power forward eventually - like Duncan has. It'll be interesting to see how he translates to the NBA.
Caputo

9:36 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
Ernie's audio scrapbook is available at most book stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble and at eharwell.com. I am not sure of the price, but it is really, really good. I have spent hour after hour driving around in my car listening to it. It's just him talking about baseball and his career and all the different aspects of it. I am not just saying that because he is a friend. I think it's brilliant. Normally I'd agree with you about the Yankees, but I just don't see it this year. Maybe that makes them doubly dangerous...
Caputo

12:37 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
He has a great arm, but he is not a very good athlete. Bigger guys like that who aren't athletic tend to be inconsistent because their throwing mechanics are easily thrown out of whack. It's the same reason you don't see too many real taller golfers. Pitchers like Verlander and Miller are exceptions to the rule because they are so athletic.
Caputo

12:40 PM 
Anonymous Lennyw1971 said...

Book... the question about the NBA being a big man's league is a valid one. Since Michael Jordan's last title in '98, 8 of the next 9 titles were won by teams with dominant big men (Shaq's Lakers and Heat and Tim Duncan's Spurs), with the lone exception being the '04 Pistons. Tim Duncan is referred to as a power forward, but looking at his size (7' tall) and pure skillset, he seems like a pure center. The main reason that he was tagged a power forward was that David Robinson anchored the middle for the Spurs for the first 5 years of Duncan's career, just as Ralph Sampson played with Hakeem Olajuwon and thus Olajuwon was called a power forward earlier in his career. Greg Oden has to be Portland's choice... these skillful bigmen come around about once every 10 years, whereas another player like Kevin Durant may be just around the corner.

You're dead on with Grilli. He seems to have a good, live arm, but seems to lack something that I can't quite put my finger on. Is he catching too much of the plate? Is he too wild? Just not sure. I like Miner, but I've also seen him get hit hard for extended stretches. Maybe the team can look at a minor league arm (Trahern). The Rangers, Astros, or some of these other bad teams are not just giving away arms to fortify our pennant chase.

The Yankees normally would concern me, but now they rely on fading aces to anchor their staff. Their pitching youth is good, but injured, and A-Rod seems to be carrying them. Without him, they're probably 10 under .500 now.

3:40 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Lennyw1971,
We'll see what happens with Oden. This is a player who may be a pure big man in a game that no longer requires one. It will take a good coach to take advantage of his skills. Grilli just might not be that good. History is full of pitchers who had just one decent season. Last season might have been his one decent season. Seems like it.
Caputo

1:15 AM 

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