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8 Things To Look For: 2014 Masters

Masters flowers

LOS ANGELES — The legendary comedic actor Tim Meadows once said, as Tiger Woods on a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit, “golf is great and I love golf and whatnot.” And he’s right, though I’m not sure what the “whatnot” is anymore since Tiger, well, ya know, gave up all the whatnot. Regardless, golf is nearly the perfect game in the sense that all its glory and goathood rests squarely on your shoulders. You’re not competing against anyone else except yourself and the golf course, which makes for a 5-hour battle of will and determination. The ultimate mental game, if you’ve ever swung a club you know exactly what I mean, golf pushes your limits in ways other sports can’t. I taught myself how to play 15 years ago, molded my swing after watching countless pros on TV throughout the years and reading magazines and infomercials, and am still a gigantic hack. Just when I think I have the game figured out, my ball striking goes into a funk or I can’t putt to save my life. This ever happen to you: if one aspect of you game is on point, another is completely off kilter? All the time right? It’s a good thing I’m not a professional. I’d have won and lost my Tour card a dozen times by now and more than once gone completely Tin Cup by breaking all my clubs out of frustration during a round.

As it were, I didn’t completely embarrass myself this past week at Lakeside Golf Course in Toluca Lake, Calif. in a Red Cross Celebrity Golf Tournament. What was I doing there? Good question. Let’s just say it’s good to know people. But it was hands down the nicest course I’ve ever played on, with pristine fairways and the smallest, neatly manicured greens I’ve ever seen in person. And fast. Dang were those greens fast. It was a modified scramble, so my final score 87 was much more generous than I would’ve shot had I been required to use my own tee shot each hole, but still, considering I’ve hit the links twice in the last 9 months, I’ll take it. Point is, the round was the perfect way to begin Masters week. And because I’m always looking out for you guys, here’s my 8 Things To Look For: 2014 Masters:

1.) Where Is Tiger Woods? So Eldrick announced last week he was going to miss the Masters to have surgery to alleviate the pain in his aching back, thus missing his favorite even for the first time since 1994, ya know, when he wasn’t yet on Tour. We all know the next year he set the scoring record and took the golf world by storm. So let’s just assume that’s going to happen next year.

tigerwoods

2.) Wait, Really? Tiger’s Not Playing? Really! And I’m pretty bummed out about it (as I tweeted out shortly after his announcement), as Tiger is hands down my favorite golfer and a main reason people watch on Sundays, especially at Augusta where even though he’s been up-and-down the last few years, he’s always found in himself in contention heading into the Back 9. I really think his absence will affect ratings but I guess we’ll see if the Masters truly are Tiger-proof. It won’t be the same without him this year, that’s for sure. Think of all the great Augusta moments in the last 19 years that he’s been a part of! It’s amazing.

3.) Can Adam Scott Win This Thing Again? Here’s the most crazy stat in the last five years of golf: 19 of the last 21 majors have been won by someone different. On top of that, there hasn’t been a consecutive Masters champion since Tiger in 2001-’02, so you’d think something has to give, right? Clearly Scott, an Aussie, has the game to repeat and he’s off to a good start this season with four Top 12 finishes in five events. Knowing he can win at Augusta is a big mental hurdle to overcome and with that in his back pocket he’s already a leg up on those who have faltered in years past.

Masters Golf

4.) Who Is The Next Young American Champ? Speaking of, and with Tiger out, I’m ready for a new, young American to come on the scene and really take charge and ignite some excitement among U.S. golf fans. It’s been a while. We need a stateside Rory McIlroy. So let me just throw out five names to keep an eye on in the next couple days:

Keegan Bradley: The Vermont native is 27, a Red Sox fan and will be wearing sick Jordan XI golf shoes throughout the tournament. (Hey, I’m easy to please.)

Harris English: The 24-year old is from Georgia, has five Top 10 finishes dating back to last October, and wait for it, we have the SAME BIRTHDAY. That makes him rootable in my book.

Ricky Fowler: Of course, any list of upcoming Americans has to include Fowler, who’s only 25 believe it or not. And while he’s struggled on the course of late, you know he’s going to have one of the craziest outfits out there, and that counts for something.

Webb Simpson: Remember, Simpson won the U.S. Open back in 2012, so you know he’s got major game. Plus, he’s only 28 and also has five Top 10s since October. Another major win here would really elevate his status as a serious contender to take Tiger’s place among American superstars.

Patrick Reed: Then we have Reed, who shocked everyone a couple weeks ago by donning the red shirt on Sunday a la Tiger and then went out and beat him. Only 23, he’s proven to have the moxie to hang with the big boys but Augusta chews up and spits out hopefuls for breakfast.

freddy

5.) Will Fred Couples Be Near Leaderboard This Weekend? Freddy is like your cool uncle who lets you stay up late and watch the movie with some tities in it ,and maybe let you sip on his beer while you’re at it, which is why he’s one of the biggest fan favorites at this event each year. He also somehow seems to find himself in contention heading into the weekend. Couples, who won back in 1992, made a serious run last year before sliding off late and finishing 13th. As always with Couples, it’ll be how long is back can hold up in that Georgia heat.

6.) Will A Past Champion Make A Run? There are 19 former champions in the field this year and those with the best realistic shot to contend include Angel Cabrera (2009), Adam Scott (2013), Phil Mickelson (2004, ’06, ’10), Charl Schwartzel (2011) and Bubba Watson (2012).

7.) How Many Times Will Jim Nantz Say “Hello, Friends”? Get ready to hear it A LOT in the next four days. I’m talking like at least 438 times. And while we’re here, get ready for talk about the azaleas, Butler Cabin, Amen Corner, Hogan’s Bridge, Eisenhower Tree (which is gone from the 17th hole), Condi Rice being a member now and how it’s a tradition unlike any other. In fact, you might want to play a Jim Nantz Drinking Game or two while you’re crushing cheese sandwiches and watching the Masters package on DirecTV. Better yet, don’t. There’s no reason to end up in the hospital on Friday. It’s a long weekend of golf.

8.) Tiger’s Really Not Playing? Unless he’s been secretly in the WWE the last month with Vince McMahon plotting what would be the coolest ruse ever, then yes, Tiger’s really not playing. Trust me, you’ll live without him.

The Weekend Bellow — May 31, 2013

LOS ANGELES — It’s not the superfight boxing fans had clamored for, but this one will do. And it should be simply put, fantastic. Late Wednesday, Floyd Mayweather announced on his Twitter feed that he’s agreed to fight fellow unbeaten champion Canelo Alvarez this coming September 14 in Las Vegas at 152 pounds, putting his own unblemished 44-0 record on the line. It will without question be Mayweather’s toughest bout  in years and should smash his own pay-per-view record for his new home, Showtime.

“I’m giving my fans what they want,” Mayweather said in the Twitter release, and there’s no doubt that’s the case. Since Alvarez defeated Austin Trout in late April, he’s been the hot name for Mayweather’s next hand-picked opponent. Most thought their matchup would be next year at the earliest, given Mayweather’s recent layoff and hand injury suffered against Robert Guerrero, but that was put to rest Wednesday.

The fight will take place at Mayweather’s Las Vegas home, the MGM Grand and will take place on the same day as two-time defending NCAA Champion Alabama Crimson Tide battles reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and arguably the man having the greatest Spring Break of all-time, Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. My calendar is already circled for that bound-t0-be epic sports Saturday.

If I was a betting man, I’d parlay the Aggies and Mayweather.

SPURS COAST, HEAT PUSHED BY PACERS
Tony Parker, in my mind, is the MVP of the NBA Playoffs to this point. The way he dominated the Memphis Grizzlies was remarkable and unexpected, especially considering how out-of-this-world Mike Conley had been playing in the first two rounds. Truthfully, I thought the Grizzlies would defeat the Spurs in 7 games and get blown out by Miami in the Finals, but now it looks like both maybe watching from their respective Italian leather couches. To the Heat/Pacers after one more point about Tim Duncan; what he’s been able to do this postseason has been remarkable. Talk about turning back the clock, applying the deer antler spray or whatever, to see TD just destroying the competition in the second season has been wonderful. And, it’s been reported, he’s been doing in all the while locked in a nasty divorce. Kudos.

Now, onto Indiana/Miami. Who saw this coming? Put your hands down. The Pacers are huge. Like skyscraper huge and it’s obviously posing seriously problems for Miami, whose biggest player (Chris Bosh) is a 6-11 jumpshooter (I’m not counting Birdman, I’m just not). When you get outrebounded by 19 in a playoff game, you have issues. And sure, that 6th foul on LeBron James in Game 4 was pretty dubious but you have to expect that kind of wishy-washy, make-everyone-think-the-game-is-rigged refereeing once in a while. I just can’t figure out the Heat. They should be rolling, and you saw that in Game 3 and then in Game 5 how badly they can dominate when running on fully cylinders, but it just seems like they coast too much. Though I really wanna see the Spurs dismantle them. Can’t get over how amazing San Antonio is playing. I think the Spurs are going to win the title, but I think they’ll end up losing Game 1 because of the long layoff, since it seems obvious to me Pacers/Heat is going seven games.

BLACKHAWKS ADVANCE, NO CLEAR CUP FAVORITE
I’ll be the first to admit I only pay attention to the NHL during the playoffs. I’m sure I’m not alone. And while I can name more than a few players on the Bruins, to say I’m a fan would be inaccurate. I was pumped when they won the Stanley Cup a couple years ago, and I want them to win again this year, but I don’t live and die with every line change and power play. I did get moderately into the Blackhawks/Red Wings series if only because my buddy Charlie is a die-hard Chicago fan, so it was nice to see them win so he could live a little longer only to have another heart attack when they go seven games against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings here. It would be nice if I could get to a game, but it’s looking highly unlikely.

Penguins/Bruins should be a fun matchup as well. Lots of good storylines with Sydney Crosby and what Pittsburgh has been able to do this season with their super-loaded team, and Jaromir Jagr facing his former team, the team he won a couple of Cups with when he was just a rookie. Now he’s on Boston trying to lead this team to a title for the 2nd time this decade. Read somewhere that the final four is the last four Stanley Cup champions. That’s pretty neat. Hope both series go seven games.

Rooting for Kings/Bruins.

EXTRA BUTTER SUMMER-MOVIE STYLE
I’m pretty disappointed in my movie reviewing the last couple years, and every time I pledge to bring back Extra Butter, I always fall short of my own expectations (lot of first person in that sentence). So here’s some seriously quick reviews of this Spring/Summer films that I’ve seen thus far. Please note, I have yet to go see Fast 6, which I plan on doing. So in the true spirit of brevity, here’s my one-line reviews followed by my ranking.

 Iron Man 3: Gwenyth Paltrow appears for a moment wearing a sports bra and Robert Downey is very polished now in his 4th go-around, if you count “The Avengers” but I thought it was a nice conclusion to the trilogy, however it made too much money not to make a 4th; as always, stay through the credits and if Jon Favreau happens to see this, eat a salad. 3.75/5

42: Harrison Ford was a little over the top as Branch Rickey, but it was a cool to sorta re-live” history” through this film, though it wasn’t as great as I was hoping it would be. 2.75/5

Pain & Gain: This film had 3 things going for it from the get-go with me: Marky Mark, The Rock and Michael  Bay, that meant there was going to be wicked awesome one-liners, probably some big dudes doing cool stuff, and shh blowing up with gratuitous sex where applicable. Check. Check. Check. Thrown in Ed Harris and University of Southern Maine’s own Tony Schalub and you got a success, despite its stupidity. 3.25/5

Olympus Has Fallen: The first of our “let’s blow up Washington D.C.” films this year featured Gerard Butler basically doing what he should be doing in all his movies: kicking ass and taking names later, but it was nice to see Dylan McDermott getting work again despite it being this insanly over-the-top, non-believable, there-must-have-been-1,000-body-count, flick. 2.5/5

The Great Gatsby: I went in thinking this was going to be a 2-hour rap video since that’s what the previews made me think this film was, and I left thinking that I could’ve done without the Jay-Z and Beyonce songs since they, ya know, weren’t alive in 1920, but I did enjoy it, and made me think for a minute that I wanted to read the book like I was in 10th grade again. 3.25/5

GI Joe: Retaliation: A movie that knows what it is, its audience and what it wants to accomplish; fun, explosive and wrapped up with the good guys winning and The Rock kicking some serious ass; it didn’t hurt that Bruce Willis made an appearance. 3.5/5

Star Trek Into Darkness: Hands down the best flick of the season thus far, and it’s so good I don’t even want to say anything about it, just go see it and then when it’s over, see it again. 4.25/5

Oblivion: Remember when Tom Cruise went insane and everything he made was tainted? Me too, and I hated that because I really like Tom Cruise and make it a point to see all his films, so with this one I really wanted to like it and the first half was pretty awesome and then it just got weird. But Morgan Freeman is in it, so there’s that, too. 3/5

NFL OFFSEASON IN FULL SWING
I was taking some heat on Twitter when it was announced that 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree would be missing most of the 2013 season after suffering an achilles injury, those blaming me for my line of questioning to him a couple months back on the Rich Eisen Podcast. While I stand behind my simple query, I wish injury on no man, let alone someone on the cusp of greatness like Crabtree. How this affects the 49ers offense in 2013 has obviously yet to be seen, but Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and Mario Manningham now carry a larger burden than before. No question Colin Kaepernick was counting on heaving the rock #15’s way 125+ times this coming season and such will have to look elsewhere on fourth and goal in the Super Bowl.

Glad to see Charles Woodson land somewhere, though it proves that the one thing that drives these athletes is the all mighty dollar, as reports had C-Wood with several other offers with franchises with more favorable odds to advance in the postseason than Oakland.

Am I the only one who doesn’t hold Brian Urlacher in such high esteem for his middle linebacking of the last 13 seasons? Because it seems that way. Let’s say we give 54 his due for the Arizona “You Want To Crown Them?” game, because most seem to agree that was a seminal moment for him given how well he played in the second half against Matt Leinart and Co., but name me another quintessential Brian Urlacher moment that would beseech him such a title as Hall of Famer? I can’t think of one. He was a very good player for a considerable period of time who also seemingly was hurt more often than not. That’s how I’ll remember him. That and his flings with Paris Hilton and Jenny McCarthy.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone.

Remembering the Macho Man

LOS ANGELES — Two years ago today, “Macho Man” Randy Savage was killed in a car accident in Florida, and as he was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up, I instantely called my good friend VA (@ChrisRosie22) for an tribute podcast (back when I did episodes of The Crossover frequently) to talk about Macho Man’s life and his impact on ours. We had a great time walking down memory lane two years ago.

If you have a few minutes, please dial it up and enjoy our thoughts (click on arrow below).

Here’s what a wrote in my posting on my old tumblr page back then:

As everyone knows, Macho Man passed over last weekend at age 58 following a single-car accident in Florida, and so VA joined me to remember and pay respect to the life of one of our favorite WWE Superstars.

It seems everywhere you look, sports statues are popping up all over the place these days. Out here in SoCal, hoops legend Kareem Abdul-Jabar has been complaining the Lakers haven’t put one of him out front of Staples Center yet.

Seems ridiculous, but let’s be honest: statues are cool. So, after VA  and I paid our respects with another solid podcast effort to the fallen Macho Man, we had a post-show conversation centered around bronze.

VA asked me if there was a statue put up of Macho Man how far would be too far for me to visit? I said that a statue of the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time would be pretty awesome — given that it displayed his colorfully eccentric attire — but considering I’d never seen Michael Jordan’s statue in Chicago and he’s my favorite athlete ever, the chances would be quite low. I did add, should something be going on in Vegas, and he was still alive to give a speech and I could muster up a crew to roll with, I’d make an exception.

Alas, that’ll never happen but we can still enjoy all the YouTube clips of Macho Man’s insane promos, the epic match with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3 and, of course, a Slim Jim.

So, enjoy us talking about the life of Macho Man, what we think he’d been up to before his death, what it’d be like if he was our high school baseball coach, going as him for Halloween this year and much, much more.

Oooooooooooooooooooh yeah!!! DIG IT!!!