His 100-mile-per-hour offering had not just been hit for a home run but pulled down the leftfield line, and Tigers ace Justin Verlander could only laugh. He admitted later that he had "out-thunk" himself by throwing another fastball to Rangers rightfielder Nelson Cruz, rather than pitch to his weakness with another breaking ball, but recently there have been few pitches the 31-year-old Dominican hasn't driven with authority.
Derek Jeter became the 28th man in baseball history to collect 3,000 regular-season hits on Saturday when he hit a one-out solo home run off the Rays' David Price into the left field bleachers at the new Yankee Stadium in the third inning of the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Rays.
During these daunting economic days, the sports fan, more than ever, deserves real bang for the buck. In that context, the SI.com Thrill Lists were born. These enumerate the athletes, past and present, who most infallibly have kept us on the edge of our seats; the men and women (and horses) whom we would pay to see.
Duped tourists visiting St. Andrews will sometimes send postcards home describing the beauty of the city's most ancient links, the Old Course. Wish you were here! It's amusing, really. To me, the real postcard courses are in Ireland and Hawaii and on Scotland's west coast. Rolling duneland, crashing surf, long shadows, spongy green turf -- that whole thing. The Old Course -- in Fife, on the east coast -- is an ugly ole bastard, to my eye. The game's original 18-holer is hard and knobby, gray and urban and crowded, with weird, toothy animals darting in and out of the bushes at dusk. It's my favorite place in all of golf and all of sport. The place makes me happy. What can I say?
If you have watched the Indianapolis Colts much the first two weeks, you know the big difference in their team is the competent, occasionally lethal defense they have flying around the ball. It's overly simplistic to give the credit to one man, but there's no doubt in my mind that, next to Peyton Manning, the most indispensable player on this team through two weeks (with apologies to Dwight Freeney and Joseph Addai) is strong safety Bob Sanders.
The Masters is built on lore. The heroic shots of Sunday afternoons. The tragic failures. It is the glory of the game set against the backdrop of azaleas, a falling spring sun and (warning: cliche alert) a cathedral of pines.
"You're not Bobby Jones." My tone was accusatory,but the man at the door of my Pullman compartmentgave me a wan smile. "Bobby is indisposed." No, I said to myself, Bobby is dead. Bobby's been deadfor 35 years. It was midnight, and I was hungry andcranky. "Aren't you going to invite me in?" He wasweaving with the rocking motion of the train, a middle-aged man wearing round, wire-rimmed spectacles,a creme-colored sport shirt and a tweed jacket. "I wasexpecting the ghost of Bobby Jones," I said. "The e-mailsaid, 'Midnight, the Lake Shore Limited.' I flew to Chicago, grabbed a cab at Midway, ranto the Amtrak counter. . . ." I felt my blood pressure spiking. "The golf ghosts have alwaysvisited me. I've never had to chase after them." The man cocked his head and made atut-tut sound with his tongue. " 'His mind was filled with a single thought: that of his happinessdestroyed for no apparent reason,' " he declared. Registering my blank expression,he added, "Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo." Emboldened by my cont
What the Masters does is preserve the code. The PGA Tour money folk, left to their own devices, would chase every last dollar until the Tour fell into the NASCAR/NBA/NFL/WWE abyss. (Exhibit A: the 44 corporate logos in the Tour media guide.) The Masters reminds us of the importance of gracious losers, replaced divots, hushed spectators-the actual game. That's why the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club (along with the game's dominant player at any given time and very few other people) is one of golf's most influential figures. Every April trees bud, the clubs come out, we turn on CBS and fall for the whole thing again, the grace and beauty and athleticism. We actually like the knot in our stomach that makes us want to heave our lunch, even if it's all vicarious. Your grandmother doesn't watch the Honda Classic, but she watches the Masters, right?
You may bored to the point of aggravation/ Excited as a lighted fuse/ Sick with the sight of degradation/ Or you may think you have nothing left to lose/ But it don't matter what you feel/ You can beg, you can borrow or steal/ But as long as I'm holding the wheel/ I don't want no spitting on the bus. -- Steve Gibbons
Augusta National's image as an exclusive (and exclusionary) institution is a reflection of the club's co-founders, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. As the most famous glam-ateur in the game's history, Jones was the face of the club, the front man who hung out with Hollywood stars and heads of state. Roberts was an enigma -- a man with an eye for detail and innovation both as the club and Masters tournament chairman for 45 years, he was also myopic in his world view, once infamously muttering, "As long as I'm alive, golfers will be white, and caddies will be black." Thirty years ago, Roberts, in declining health, wandered out onto the world's most famous course and blew his own brains out. The legacy he left is one of intrigue, with fact and fiction intertwined like coffee and fresh cream before the spoon gives them a stir. Here's the truth, half-truths and downright fairy tales about the man behind the curtain for so many years at the Masters.
Guess what? You can have a PGA Tour event without Tiger, Phil, Vijay and Ernie. The Honda Classic, which wrapped up with a four-man playoff on Monday morning, had a B-list field yet turned out to be the best tournament of the year.
1. The Colts touched down in Miami on Monday night. They weren't talking about the health of Peyton Manning's swollen thumb, but it might not have been a good sign that it barely fit in the overhead compartment.
You're on a golfing vacation. You land in Atlanta, Georgia. Your immediate reaction, of course, will be to head directly to Augusta National, Bobby Jones' golfing cathedral that hosts the Masters, recently won by Tiger Woods for the fourth time.