The crown jewel of Arizona athletics has done it again after beating Tennessee in the rubber game of the Women's College World Series 5-0. Taryne Mowatt was named the Series' most outstanding player after hurling more than 1,000 pitches in eight complete games during championship week. I don't know how these pitchers pitch all these games in a row. If I did any repetitive motion, let alone windmill a ball, 1,000 times in a week I'd be in the hospital, or as my buddy Jeff said, "I'd be in traction."
A funny thing happened last weekend. On Saturday my wife and I had made plans with friends to see the 4:50 showing of the movie Knocked Up. I soon realized that Arizona had a televised softball game at that same time. The following conversation ensued:
Me: "What are the odds of me getting out of this whole movie thing?"
Wife: "Why? You okay?"
Me: "It's just that Arizona's on."
Wife: "Softball! You gotta' be kidding. I'm drawing the line at softball. You need help. You're going to the movie."
I mention this because I absolutely fell in love with this year's Wildcats softball team. Not only are these female athletes extremely talented, but they have an Anna Kournikova-like affect on male viewers in that they are very easy on the eye – even if you don't exactly know what's going on half the time, which leads me to the following subjects.
While watching the Series unfold this week, I picked up on a few things. First, the rules are very different. To explain, it's like watching soccer or hockey for the first time. Trying to understand off sides in soccer or the two-line pass in hockey is like trying to figure out why in softball the third baseman plays 25 feet from home plate, or why batters charge at pitches like receivers charge the line of scrimmage in Arena League Football. Second, I found it surprisingly easy to predict what pitch the pitcher was throwing next. Curve balls, change ups, heaters, you name it, I could predict with tremendous accuracy what was on the horizon. I kept saying things like, "sit back on your heels and nail this change up," only to then see girls freeze like a deer in head lights when Mowatt pulled the string on her fastball. These athletes must know how to read into a pitcher's tendencies, but it certainly doesn't look like it. The last two things I picked up on was that UA's Caitlin Lowe has an absolute hose in center field and how incredibly awesome a fielder the Vols' third baseman was. Jennifer Griffin reminded me of ‘The Penguin' Ron Cey out there making one tough play after another. I was extremely impressed. Perhaps she can get a job with the Yankees advising A-Rod on how to better field his position. For that matter, perhaps Lowe can also work with Johnny Damon on how to throw the ball on a line more than 150 ft.
Our softball team deserves all the credit in the world in winning their eighth national title. The Vols were the worthiest of opponents and should be proud of the effort put forth. The school should also be proud in that during Tuesday night's game, two very important figureheads were in the stands to watch National Player of the Year Monica Abbott and her teammates attempt to win their first championship – Phil Fulmur and Pat Summit. There's something to be said about an athletic department that generates such executive-level support so props go out to the Volunteers and their fans.
Moving on, Michelle Wie's been making the wrong headlines this week after pulling an Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) move from Caddyshack on the 17th tee last week in Annika Sorenstam's Celebrity Pro-Am. The whole, "Oh, my arm," routine isn't fooling anyone, especially now that she's apparently healed enough in less than a week's time to take on the challenging rough and playing conditions of a major championship layout. If you don't know what I'm talking about, there's a rule in the LPGA that states that if a non-member (amateur) shoots 88 or higher in a tour event, then that player is banned from playing in all other tour sponsored events for the remainder of the season. Wie was 14-over par thru 16 holes.
I was so moved by watching softball this week that I thought I'd give the WNBA a shot. As it turned out, the Lnyx/Mercury game was in the final minutes of a tight contest. The 1,500 or so fans in the stands seemed pretty riled up. So, what the heck, I watched. Let me tell you, even in a tie game with 27-seconds remaining, my adrenaline level had flatlined. I was about as enthusiastic as an Irishman at an AA Meeting. I felt like somebody was reading poetry to me in Mandarin-Chinese. It was brutal. Nothing against women's basketball but that was it. My wife was right in drawing the line with my infatuation with sports. She just drew it in the wrong place.
No more WNBA for me.
The latest NFL player to feel the sting of Roger Goodell's punishment stick is the Chicago Bears' Tank Johnson. Tank received an eight game suspension from the commissioner for his wrongdoings. I have to wonder, even though the latest news out of Atlanta is rumored to be that the District Attorney there doesn't have enough to prosecute Michael Vick, what will Goodell do with the Falcons' quarterback if he gets into any more trouble? The death penalty is probably too harsh a punishment but I wouldn't hold anything past Goodell at this point.
With the Desert Disaster looming this weekend, I conducted my last practice session for the event Wednesday night. Let me just say that during the first 30 minutes my new Stack & Tilt Swing felt more like a stack of you know what. Fortunately, after about twenty straight miss hits I fell into a groove and it looks like I'll be good to go come Saturday morning. Of course, that is unless I get suckered into a shot-for-shot contest with Duck Lane late Friday night.
I can't believe Trent Green was traded to the Dolphins for a fifth round pick. Before the Denver "Cheap Shot" that concussed Green last season, this guy was a top 10 quarterback. Now, who knows? For those who think that cheap shots are okay to prove a point, you're so wrong. Green may never truly recover from that one hit and this trade is evidence that he's clearly not the player he once was just nine short months ago.
Who besides me thinks the 2-3-2 format for the NBA Finals makes no sense? First, why would you change the series format for the Finals when the format for every series leading up to the Finals is 2-2-1-1-1. Second, the three middle games are unfair on so many levels for both teams. For one, unless the teams are completely mismatched, it's incredibly difficult for any team to beat another team three straight times in a week. For that matter, it's extremely difficult for any team to beat a quality opponent back-to-back in a series, especially on the road. The likeliest of scenarios is the Spurs will be up 3-2 with Games 6 and 7 at home. How can the Cavs pull off the series down 3-2 with the final two on the road? The Cavs basically have to steal one of the first two games. If they don't then the series is basically over before it even gets started because they're not winning all three in Cleveland. The 2-2-1-1-1 format is better served to aid teams in holding home court. The 2-3-2 format makes it much more difficult and basically puts the onus on the underdog to win two games on the road, which is practically unheard of in the NBA Finals nowadays..
Billy Donovan's back at Florida. Hurray! For the pretty boy who had it all two weeks ago, this definitely leaves a scar that will never heal. How does a grown man act so irrational? How does someone with his experience, education, work ethic and commitment make such a poor decision in such haste that he has to pull a one-eighty a day later? I don't get it. And I don't like it because it's becoming more and more common in sports today. Rodriguez pulled a similar stunt this year in toggling between West Virginia and Alabama before bailing on the Tide and returning to the Mountaineers. This has to stop. The biggest victim of Donovan's actions isn't the Magic, though. It's not even his reputation with his Gators squad. The real victim was Virginia Commonwealth's Head Coach, Anthony Grant, who was a 10-year assistant coach at Florida under Donovan. Grant was contacted by Florida about their potential head coaching vacancy and many speculated that he would indeed be the man to replace the departed Donovan. Now that little Billy is back with the Gators, Grant is stuck at VCU with their entire Athletic Department now knowing full well that he's going to bail for a more prominent coaching gig the first chance he gets.
I did a little research on what happened to Sporting News Radio in Los Angeles and came up with nothing. What I did find, though, is AM 1540 is now CHIN Radio. No joke. Based out of Toronto, this one time sports dial is now indeed a Chinese talk show.
Speaking of the Chinese, my buddy Brent's on a business trip in Hong Kong for a few weeks. His boss, Mr. Zee, is truly one of a kind and I've urged Brent to smuggle one of those 007 microphone pens into his one-on-one meeting with Mr. Zee. To give you an idea of why I'm so interested, the following are just a couple of dimes this crazy business mogul has dropped in recent corporate meetings:
"There are three ways to get rich: born rich, marry rich, or waiting for son to be rich."
To a room of executives: "I look at you guys and laugh. Crazy nuts."
To a corporate officer of 30 years: "You are not so smart or capable, but you're a good guy so I will wait for you to get better."
My personal favorite: "I don't have time for this horse and donkey show."
Like Mr. Zee, I too am running out of time as it's off to Palm Springs in search of my third Desert Disaster title. For me and my 60 other friends who'll be in attendance, winning the Disaster is like winning the Master's – or at least how we perceive what winning the Master's feels like.
Bear Down, Arizona! And give a special salute to our women's softball team when you see them around campus.