big papi

WHO SHOT BIG PAPI?

WHO SHOT BIG PAPI?

 

The baseball world is in shock and disbelief.

First it was reported as an attempted robbery in a bar in the Dominican Republic.  Then no.  Surveillance video shows that it was a direct assassination attempt, from ambush, on David Ortiz, one of the most beloved sports heroes of our time.

Ortiz, better known as ‘Big Papi’, was born and raised in the Dominican Republic.  He has gone on to become one of the most recognized professional sportsmen on the planet playing baseball for the Boston Red Sox.  Kids and adults alike look up to David Ortiz as an outstanding example of what a kid born into poverty can become, and what he can go on to mean to fans around the world.

Ortiz was standing at a bar in Santo Domingo talking with popular TV host Jhoel Lopez when a man entered the bar and shot him in the lower back, at point blank range, causing dangerous internal damage before the bullet exited through his abdominal region, perhaps striking Lopez as well.  ‘Big Papi’ was rushed to the nearby Clinica Abel Gonzalez for emergency treatment.  Thankfully, though it cost him a gall bladder, the wound proved not to be fatal.

David Ortiz has a very big family.  Not just down in the Caribbean and at home in Boston, but including also the entire ‘Red Sox Nation’ family, from which flowed first shock and outrage, followed by an overwhelming show of support for their iconic local hero.  The love and respect that ‘Big Papi’ has garnered among his fellow big leaguers in his 20 years in professional baseball is evident from their varied dismayed reactions to this senseless tragedy.

Emotions here run strong.  Friend and colleague Pedro Martinez could not hold back the tears while praising his former teammate on his MLB TV program.  He was not alone.  Outrage and disbelief abounds around Boston and the entire MLB community as concern and love flow out for ‘Big Papi’.  Everyone has a version of the same question, ‘Of all the people to shoot, why David Ortiz’?  It’s hard to make sense out of it.

Ortiz played 20 years of Major League Baseball as a first baseman and designated hitter.  That in itself is quite an accomplishment.  Add to it three World Series championship rings and being named to the MLB All-Star team 10 times. Oh yeah, he is also a seven (7) time Silver Slugger Award winner and holds the Red Sox single season home run record at 54, set back in 2006.

Ortiz received immediate and abundant support from the Red Sox organization as well which had him flown to Boston where a second surgery procedure was done leaving him in stable condition and out of danger.

 

Gracias a Díos.

 

Get well soon ‘Big Papi’.  You have a lot of people pulling for you

us open pb

PEBBLE BEACH HOSTS THE US OPEN

PEBBLE BEACH HOSTS THE US OPEN

About half way up the Pacific coastline of California lies the seemingly enchanted seaside city of Pebble Beach.  It’s enchanted because few places on earth display such dramatic beauty on such a small piece of rugged coastline known as the Monterey Peninsula and Carmel Bay. This is California at its very best.

There is something special about playing golf on an ocean side course, especially one as well done as Pebble Beach where the natural ins and outs of the coastline are incorporated into the fairways and greens which make up one of the most challenging and inspiring golf courses on the planet. It is also one of the most expensive to play at a cool $525 per round.

Tiger Woods will be there this year for the US Open!  We can pretty much plan on the gallery being huge and following the Tiger around the legendary links at Pebble Beach for all 4 days.  At the Memorial, there were, at times, around 20,000 fans encircling the greens when Tiger was putting.

After winning the Masters this year, much to the surprise of many, Woods struggled for consistency for the first three rounds of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio back in June, only to astound and excite the overflow crowds by posting a hot 64 on the final round, which led to a top 10 finish for Woods and leaving many to speculate that Tiger was just warming up for the US Open, this year to be held at the famous Pebble Beach Course.

Woods picked up a check for $800,000 at this same Pebble Beach Golf Course back in the year 2000 when he won this same US Open, and won it by 15 strokes, posting a final four round score of 272, a record which still stands today as the largest margin of victory ever recorded in a major PGA Championship.  It was the stuff that legends are built on.

But, can he do it again?  Las Vegas odds makers seem to think that the Tiger has a pretty good shot at it once again. He lucked out in the pairings going out with Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth, two excellent and very serious golfers.  Perhaps playing alongside Woods will be the catalyst to get Spieth on track again after a rather slow start to the 2019 season.

While two young and very strong American Golfers, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, are listed ahead of Tiger Woods at 8-1, the Tiger is right in there at 10-1 alongside the recent RBC Canadian Open winner Rory McElroy.  Spieth is currently listed at 14-1 with Justin Rose at 20-1.

But keep an eye out for the guys bunched up back at 25-1.  Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas make up that group and any one of them could be there on Sunday afternoon putting for the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach and a share of the huge $12,500,000 purse being offered in 2019.

HostPPH-logo

WHAT IS THE BEST PAY PER HEAD (PPH) SERVICE?

WHAT IS THE BEST PAY PER HEAD (PPH) SERVICE?

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BART STAR

THE LEGEND OF BART STARR

THE LEGEND OF BART STARR

Professional Football fans who were around at the very beginning of the fledgling NFL all remember Bart Starr as a hero, and a gentleman, for he was both. The gentleman part came naturally to him being born down south in the great state of Alabama, where chivalry was still in vogue back in those days. The hero part he had to work at.

The Green Bay Packers waited until the 17th round of the 1956 NFL Draft to pick a young quarterback from the University of Alabama named Bryan Bartlett Starr.  The pick turned out to be fortuitous for all concerned as Starr would remain the Packers starting quarterback until his retirement as a player in 1972.

Bart Starr is so much a part of the history of the early success of the NFL in general, and the Green Bay Packers in particular, that it is impossible to mention one without bringing up the other.   To this day, he remains the only NFL quarterback in the history of the league to win three consecutive league championships in 1965, 1966 and 1967.

On January 15, 1967 Bart Starr led his Green Bay Packers team, coached by the immortal Vince Lombardi, to victory in the very first Super Bowl ever, which was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, by defeating Hank Stram’s Kansas City Chiefs by a final score of 35-10.

Super Bowl II also found Coach Lombardi and his Packers back to take on the Oakland Raiders, again with Bart Starr at quarterback.  Again Green Bay dominated the game and the Packers were obviously the best NFL franchise going at the time.

Unsurprisingly, Bart Starr was named MVP in both Super Bowls I & II. He was also named the Most Valuable Player in the NFL for 1966 and has long since been inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame IN Canton.

When he was finally done, Bart Starr has amassed the highest postseason quarterback passer rating in NFL history at 104.8 and an incredible 9-1 record in postseason play.  Starr played in 196 NFL games, a record which stood until 2003.

Former Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre was mentored by Bart Starr in his early days with the Packers.  He said about the guru QB, “Bart Starr was the most kind, thoughtful and classiest person you could ever know.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have called him friend and to have been mentioned in the same breath”.

Old timers will tell you that Bart Starr was the toughest football player to ever have played the game.  In the 1967 NFC Championship Game, on the final play of the game, it was -48 degrees at Lambeau Field, Starr had already been sacked 8 times by the Dallas Cowboys when the Packers found themselves down by three points with 8 seconds to go in the game and the ball on the Dallas one yard line.

Starr told Lombardi that he wanted to keep the ball so the legendary coach ordered him to go out and ‘push it across the goal line’, then added famously, “And then let’s get the hell out of here”. Starr scored and was named MVP as the Packers beat Tom Landry’s Cowboys 21-17.  RIP Mr. Starr.

SEC

SEC FINALLY OK’S BOOZE AT STADIUM GAMES

Down off the white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico at Destin, Florida, the movers and shakers who run the Southeastern Conference, aka. The SEC, held their annual spring meetings in May, and actually got something done this time around.

The long overdue change to the outdated policy of not allowing alcohol sales to anyone but rich people at SEC on campus events such as baseball, basketball and, of course, football games, has finally been rescinded. The decision now rests solely with the individual universities as to whether or not they will allow booze sales to the general public.

Of course, for those who could afford the tab, just rent one of those high class ‘suites’ built into the stadium with one wall being of glass or open and overlooking the action down on the field. Padded seats, private bathrooms and, of course, a well stocked bar.  Those folks have always been able to drink whatever they wanted. Most of the general admission fans simply put a small flask of bourbon in their back pocket, just like they have been doing for the past 50-60 years, and enjoyed the game.

Problem was, the University missed out on a substantial amount of revenue which would be coming from the sale of alcohol at their stadium events.  With over 100,000 thirsty fans going to football games these days, that’s a lot of revenue.  When they finally got down to looking at the numbers and realized what hefty sums the schools were missing out on, the decision for change was fourth coming.

But don’t expect any great changes.  The pocket flasks will still be around and the games will go on pretty much as they always have and folks will wonder why in the hell it took them so long to finally make the change. The SEC was the last major conference to do so.

Beginning on August 1st, beer and wine will be sold on the SEC campuses that choose to do so. But don’t wait for a vendor to come around to you seat hawking cold beer and pouring semi-fine wines.  The booze will only be available from stationary stations behind the seating.

Additionally, there will be cut off times for the sale of alcoholic beverages of any kind, presumably with the trip home in mind.  So, top off you glass before the third quarter is done if you are at an SEC football game.  Booze sales will cease at the end of the third quarter.   Similar restrictions will be in effect for baseball, basketball and all other sports where booze is being sold on campus.

The SEC is one of the top sports conferences in the nation boasting championships in almost every sport year after year.  It’s good to see that they are finally catching up to the times. Salud!

TacitusHeroEclipse_1

TIME FOR TACITUS

As the contending horses paraded themselves in front of the capacity gallery at Churchill Downs this year for the Kentucky Derby, one horse stood out as if he had a subtle aura of energy around him, the big Gray, Tacitus.  Named after a Roman emperor, this horse carried himself like the nobility he was named for.  Horse racing fans with an affinity for the grays took notice.

The track was wet and muddy at Louisville for the Derby and the horses bunched up quickly creating some awkward traffic which obviously affected Tacitus and held him back for awhile.  However, the Big Gray finally found an opening and, like the closer he is known to be, put on a burst of speed and ended up placing fourth at the unofficial finish, only to be promoted to third place after the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security, a move that caused temporary chaos in the wagering world.

So now, just a few weeks later, Tacitus is listed right up there with Preakness winner War of Will as favorites to win the 2019 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.  As the last leg of the annual Triple Crown series, which is like the Super Bowl of house racing, the ponies will run a full mile and a half at the Belmont, perhaps affording Tacitus the extra length he needs to overcome the competition and win at least one leg of the Triple Crown.

Interestingly enough, neither eventual Kentucky Derby winner Country House nor Maximum Security, who came in first at Churchill Downs but was disqualified for a blocking foul, will be participating in the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes for three year old thoroughbreds as both horses have shown signs of minor infections.

This year bettors will have a short field to choose from as only 12 thoroughbreds have qualified to run the 12 furlong, 2,400 meter track on June 8th.   Preakness first and second winners War of Will and Everfast are listed as favorites along with Tacitus, who is the betting favorite at 8 to 5 and  who also has the highest ‘Top Equibase Speed Figure’ of any horse in the race at 107.

Spinoff follows close behind at 9 to 1 with Plus Que Parfait and Global Campaign listed at 10 to 1.  Master Fencer and Intrepid Heart come next at 11 and 12 to one respectively with Tax, Sir Winston and Bourbon War all listed at 16 to 1.  The longest shot of the race will be Joevia at 33 to 1 ridden by veteran jockey Jose Lezcano.

Tacitus, whose trainer is Bill Mott, will be ridden this year by jockey Jose Ortiz who won the Belmont Stakes two years ago on a very similar mount named Tapwrit.  Both Tapwrit and Tacitus ran well in the Kentucky Derby, won the Tampa Bay Derby, skipped the Preakness, and were both sired by the legendary Tapit who has already produced 3 Belmont Stakes winners.

Bettors are coming down heavily that Jose Ortiz can pull it off again in 2019.

 

 

le mans 3

LE MANS

There are prettier race courses in the world. There are even more famous race tracks around the world.  Courses with more curves and faster straights and scenic settings like Monaco are hard to beat.

But there is only one Le Mans.  The most prestigious automobile race on the planet will take place this year on June 15-16 in Northern France at the legendary ‘Circuit de la Sarthe’ located outside Le Mans.

There is literally nothing else like it.  Le Mans is the ultimate test of man and machine in what has become known as an ‘automobile endurance event’. For this race runs for an entire 24 hours, and endurance is the keyword.  How many of us could go out to the garage, jump into our car and expect it to run flat out for 24 hours?

The 87th running of this world famous race will begin on June 15 at 3 pm local time and run all day, and all night, until those cars and drivers who remain in competition finally cross the finish line at 3pm on June 16, after going flat out for a full 24 hours, exhausted and exhilarated in the moment.

Each team will have 3 professional drivers, a lightning fast, superbly trained pit crew and be backed up by some of the best and the brightest minds in the automotive racing industry.  Most teams will have some sort of factory backing although some of the entries will come from smaller outfits and be built with passion specifically for the annual Le Mans event.

Festivities get underway on May 30 when a process known as ‘scrutineering’ begins, for which they will need ‘scrutineers’.   Yes, those are actually real words in the British Isles, according to Dictonary.com!   They mean simply to scrutinize or inspect closely the vehicles to be entered in the race down to the most minute measurements so that all cars will be qualified under the current rules specifications.

On Friday May 31st, It’s ‘PitWalk’ day, when spectators are allowed to move about the pit areas to watch the mechanics at work and try to get ‘selfies’ with one of the world famous race drivers in attendance.  The drivers must then submit to all the administrative, aka paperwork, qualifications required to actually drive in the Le Mans race.  They don’t let just anyone out on the track.

Once everyone has been fully qualified, the competitors can finally take to the track for 10 days of practice beginning on June 2.  Ticket holders to the actual race are allowed to view the practice sessions as well. With an eye on safety for both drivers and spectators, drivers who have not previously driven in the 24 hour race are required to complete at least 10 laps on test day as well as undergo simulator training prior to the race.

Throughout the practice sessions a large fun fair is set up outside the track and the best overall view of the Le Mans track can be had from the top of the big Ferris wheel.  Actual qualifying will take place on June 12-14 and the big race will finally get underway at 3 pm local when all the drivers will line up on one side of the track with their respective cars on the other side.

In what has come to be known as a ‘Le Mans Start’, when the green flag drops, all drivers will sprint across the track, start their engines and thunder off on what is one of motorsports’ greatest annual spectacles, for the next exciting 24 long hours.

cody bellinger 2

CODY BELLINGER FOR MVP

Sports writers are running out of superlatives just trying to keep pace with what Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is doing out on the baseball field this season, almost every night.

His offense leads all of baseball in almost every category. His defense borders on astounding at times.  Just ask the Mets’ Carlos Gomez who was gunned down from right field by a pinpoint throw from Bellinger that never even touched the ground. Right on the spot & right on time, out at third base, just a split second before a run could score. Dodger manager Dave Roberts figured the ball traveled some 300 feet in the air and landed in Justin Turner’s glove.

That in itself would make most outfielders’ evening, or week, but Cody Bellinger had already outdone that throw back in the first inning, when Clayton Kershaw was getting a rare first inning pounding, by throwing out Michael Conforto dashing for home and thereby avoiding another run.  Once again the throw from right came in on a rope to catcher Russell Martin and hit his glove in perfect position to make the tag, and get the out.

Of course making two incredible defensive plays in one game just wasn’t enough for the likes of Cody Belllinger.  He had to go and hit a 440 foot home run in the third inning out to right field, which brought his total up to 19, making Bellinger currently second only to Christian Yelich who has 21 homers for the 2019 season.

Although we are just past the quarter pole in this year’s MLB season, fans at Dodger Stadium are already beginning to chant MVP when Bellinger appears on the field. It’s very early yet, however, if he keeps up a pace anywhere near what he has done so far in the first quarter, the MVP title is in the bag for Cody.

Bellinger is still only 23 years old, so handling all this sudden attention and keeping focused must be very important to him right now.  It would be all too easy to let all this go to his head, but Cody seems to be in a good place.  He even stepped out to acknowledge the crowd after his towering homerun. Later he told the press, “It was cool, I stepped out for a second because it got in my head a little bit”. 

As May turns to June Cody Bellinger still leads major league baseball by a comfortable margin in both batting average at .383, and OPS at 1.229.

Some Dodger fans were a bit dismayed when Roberts moved Bellinger from first base, where his extra length and athleticism seemed to have found a home, out to right field to replace the arm of Yasiel Puig.  However, as usual, Doc Roberts knew what he was doing. Cody demonstrated that beyond any doubt against the Mets on Monday evening in Chavez Ravine.

TigerWoodsShh

TIGER WILL PLAY THE MEMORIAL

Tiger Woods continues his roller-coaster ride through 2019 by getting back into the mix at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio this week after failing even to make the cut at the PGA Championship and falling woefully to the likes of Russell Westbrook in his own namesake ‘TIGER JAM’ poker tournament in Las Vegas which featured poker, golf clinics and even a performance by Janet Jackson.

Over the years, this annual event has raised millions of dollars towards “providing college access and educational opportunities to underserved students across the country”.  Tiger must have been feeling pretty good when someone asked him during a clinic what he thought of the guy who bet $85,000 on him to win the Masters.

Uncharacteristically, Woods let go with a never before publicly expressed expletive that caught the crowd off guard and brought on riotous laughter and applause. All he said was, “F…ing Great Bet!”  Then the Tiger took his swing, smiled and added, “Dumb-ass for the Grand Slam part, though”.

Woods sat out the Colonial down in Texas to play some poker and rest up for the big $9,100,000 Memorial Tournament to be played at the legendary Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio just outside of Columbus where he will be paired with Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose, making up a superlative trio of golfers for the competition.

Tiger will, of course, also be there at Pebble Beach on June 13 when the greatest golfers on the planet once again tee off on one of the worlds’ most beautiful and dramatic seaside golf courses for the 2019 US Open where Woods has already won 5 times.

Tiger Woods shocked and delighted the golfing world just recently by winning the 2019 Masters Tournament at the enchanting Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. It was an awesome, inspiring victory which left more than one avid spectator in tears of joy.   The very next time out Tiger was so out of sync that he missed the cut on the foreboding Bethpage Black Course out on Long Island, New York.

Whatever happens for the remainder of the PGA Tour this year, it is highly unlikely that anything will top Tiger winning the Masters, unless Mr. Woods himself comes through with another magic ride like he took at Augusta.

Still to come we have the US Open at Pebble Beach, the British Open, this year being played at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland, the Northern Trust in New Jersey, the BMW Championship in Illinois and finally the Tour Championship held at the East Lake Golf Club outside of Atlanta, Georgia as the PGA Tour finishes up back near Augusta where, in 2019, Tiger Woods, once again, won the Masters.

NHL 19

ST. LOUIS SINGING THE STANLEY CUP BLUES

It took a full six games for the St. Louis Blues professional Ice Hockey team to defeat the stubborn San Jose Sharks and advance to the NHL finals where they will face the legendary Boston Bruins, who have been practically perennial contenders for the Stanley Cup title for the past 20 years or so.

Although most of us were not aware that St. Louis even had an ice hockey team way back in 1970. That was the last time that the Blues participated in the Stanley Cup Finals, after 3 consecutive appearances there, only to be denied by these same Boston Bruins they will be facing on May 27.

The seven game series for the coveted Stanley Cup begins on May 27th at TD Garden in Boston when Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and team captain Zdeno Chara will lead the Boston NHL franchise to its fourth professional ice hockey finals in as many years. The Bruins last won the Stanley Cup back in 2011, it was their sixth NHL Championship in franchise history.

The St. Louis Blues team has a roster made up predominantly of Canadian hockey players.  Not all, but most, of their star players are from north of the border. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, where else would one go to find ice hockey players. Head Coach Craig Berube and team captain Alex Pietrangelo have taken the Blues from a terrible beginning to the season to a team scoring 99 goals in 2019 and landing in the NHL Finals.

Blues fans in St. Louis are true-blue and loyal as ever, but perhaps not as optimistic as they could be taking into consideration the amount of disillusionment and heartbreak these fans have know in recent years as their cherished Blues struggled its way to the top of the NHL hierarchy.

In fact, they didn’t start up the “We want the Cup!” cheer until the Blues had a solid 3 goal lead on the San Jose Sharks in game six of the playoffs.  Such was the faith, but the fans have come around now and are all in for a run at the Stanley Cup.

As one longtime Blues season ticket holder told reporters, “I’m feeling excitement. This is as close as we’ve come in the last 50 years”.  Then he added, “And it’s possible. This is a hell of a good team. It’s solid. Four lines. Great goaltending. Team defense.  We could do this!”

But on January 1 this year the St. Louis Blues were tied with the Ottawa Senators for the fewest points in the NHL at 34 each.  Hardly reason for optimism for diehard Blues fans.  One couple, who back in 2014 had postponed their honeymoon to follow their team for a playoff run, only to see St. Louis eliminated in the first round by the Blackhawks.

This same guy was in Vegas back in January when the Blues were listed at 100 to 1 to win the 2019 Stanley Cup. For reasons known only to true-heart sports fans with unwavering, inexplicable, loyalty to their team, he put down $25 on St. Louis to win the Stanley Cup.

That little bet ‘on faith’ is looking pretty damned good right now!  It’s looking to be a close series. Las Vegas oddsmakers are posting moneyline odds of +135 for the Blues and -155 for the Bruins.  That’s practically a push!