You wouldn't know it from the lack of attention on the blog, but I am still paying attention to sports these days. A few random comments.
Muirfield. So we have the Open Championship in store for us this weekend, back at Muirfield (home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, almost certainly the classiest name of a golf club on the planet) after an absence of 11 years. The course rightly has a reputation for being one where great champions are crowned. Just take a gander at these champions in the Muirfield Opens held since 1959:
1959 - Gary Player
1966 - Jack Nicklaus
1972 - Lee Trevino
1980 - Tom Watson
1987 - Nick Faldo
1992 - Nick Faldo
2002 - Ernie Els
Nope, no slackers or unexpected winners on that list. And given the size of the Open rota these days, this is (barring a miracle) the last chance for our greatest modern champions, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, to add their names to that august list. Notwithstanding Phil's victory in the Scottish Open last weekend, Tiger's odds of being the man are probably greater than Phil's, if only because he's proven he can win a major across the pond. But the reports indicate mild weather, which could open the field up to some of the rising stars. At this point I'll believe Tiger can win another major when he wins another major, but I'm not prepared to go out on a limb for anyone else either. We shall see.
Tim Lincecum. With the Giants mired near the cellar, it seems possible if not likely that they're about to start a rebuilding phase, and reports all over the place are speculating that Tim Lincecum is the most likely player to be dealt, given that he becomes a free agent at the end of the season and hasn't exactly set the world on fire the past two seasons.
But what a magnificent moment last Saturday night - a 148 pitch no-hitter? That kind of thing just doesn't happen in this day and age, and Lincecum would have been the last player in the world that I'd have picked to pull off such a feat. I still remember when, in his first couple of seasons, I used to worry during every single start that he was going to break down. It just didn't seem possible that a pitcher of that physical stature and unusual delivery could last long in the majors.
Though fully defensible from a business standpoint, it will be a very sad day if Lincecum is traded. More than any other single player, he has come to represent the Giants during this era of greatness, the perfect manifestation of all that is San Francisco - the wild delivery, the long hair (until this season), the occasional flirtation with banned substances. It would seem that his best days are behind him (though I would love to be proven wrong), but even if his career were to end right now, good luck trying to think of many pitchers than can boast of two Cy Young Awards, two World Series rings, and a no-hitter.
Johnny Manziel. So he was suffering from dehyrdration when he shirked his responsibilities at the Manning camp? I'll bet he was - I've had similar afflictions the morning after having indulged in a few too many beverages of the adult variety. If nothing else, the guy's got historically bad timing, pulling a stunt like this at the very moment that the nation, in the wake of Aaron Hernandez, is taking a closer look at the private lives of football players.
Keith Olbermann. We didn't get cable at my house until 1997, right after Olbermann had left, so I missed what were apparently the golden days of Sportscenter, with Olbermann and Dan Patrick. But I did see Olbermann in a sports setting when he was part of the Sunday night crew, and thought he was really funny and really good at it. And frankly, most of ESPN's nightly people are deadly dull these days, so I'm looking forward to checking his new show out.
Sacramento Kings. I have NO idea how good (or not) they will be next year, but I can't emphasize strongly enough how nice it is to see them actually TRYING to get good. No matter what happens, next season should be a honeymoon year for the new staff and players, but hopefully we're on the right track.
Dwightmare. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen - the first prominent athlete in the history of sports to voluntarily leave Los Angeles. All I can say for the sake of his legacy is that he'd better win a ring in Houston - or he'll end up as one of the all-time laughing stocks of the NBA.