No Tiger For 2016: Good or Bad for PGA?

Earlier today, as reported by the Golf Channel, former number one golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, has announced that he will not be participating in the PGA Championship. This means that he will miss the rest of the 2016 season, which is devastating to the handful of Tiger fans that remain, including myself. The man who redefined the game of golf in the late 1990’s, Tiger is a legend, a hero. His name on the leaderboard is missed every tournament, and the massive gatherings of golf fans miss chanting “Tiger, Tiger.” Speculation surrounds the question of whether he’ll win another major, or even yet, if he’ll ever play again?

Since early 2014, he has had three back surgeries. After his latest back surgery this past year, people have been saying that Tiger should just retire.

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What’s the rush? I would love to see him back as much as the next guy, but I want him back 100%. I want to relive the glory days, where the Tiger I grew up watching was fist-pumping his way to the top of every leaderboard… not the Tiger who is wincing in pain after every shot from the fairway or tee. However, since Tiger has been absent, there have been plenty of other players in the spotlight, which still makes for good golf.

As the old saying goes, “Out with the old, in with the new.” Enter Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. These four young competitors have not only taken over the top of the World Golf Rankings but have been attracting large crowds all over the world. Unfortunately, the older golfers, like Tiger and Phil Mickelson, will not be around forever. As of July 17th, Day is No. 1 in the world golf rankings, while Johnson is No. 2, Spieth is No. 3 and McIlroy is No. 4. When it comes to majors, expect these guys to be towards the top of the leaderboard. Not only are they playing well at a young age, but they make the game exciting… just like Tiger did back in the day.

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Woods is no stranger to the spotlight, winning tournaments since 1996. After the dramatic Masters victory in ’97, he seemed invincible. He essentially revived the game of golf, making it not only enjoyable to play but to watch as well.

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As we all know, he has made headlines not only on the course but off of it as well. After the cheating scandal, it seemed as if Woods had lost his motivation to win, or better yet, to even compete at a high level again. There will be people who will remember him as a “cheater” or “unloyal,” but for those that have seen him play, they will always remember him as one of the greatest golfers this world has ever seen.

There is no one like Tiger, whether you like it or not. His reactions after a shot, his fist pumps after sinking a putt and simply his presence are some of the key reasons why we need to see him tee up again.  Sooner or later, his “mamba mentality” will kick in. Expect Tiger to come roaring back in the 2017 PGA season.

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    Matt Hrncar

Raised in a competitive family, sports has been the majority of my life. Not only playing but watching as well. Born in Oak Lawn, IL (suburb of Chicago), I tend to have a bias, but I try to keep an open mind. Nonetheless, I enjoy watching and talking sports.

Why the super team is the NBA’s new best friend

With the signing of Kevin Durant to the Warriors, the idea of super teams is making a lot of people nervous. Fans are worried about their teams not competing, players are worried about never getting that ever-elusive ring, and even commissioner Adam Silver does “not think it is ideal” to have super teams. I’m here to tell everyone to relax and enjoy the ride. When you look past the immediate threat to your favorite team and start to look at the big picture, it becomes clear that WE ARE WATCHING HISTORY!

NBA Board of Governors Press Conference

Basketball history is separated by the greatness and dynasties from so called “super teams.” Those teams are how we define the era. Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 60’s, the Showtime Lakers in the 80’s, MJ and the 90’s Bulls, and the Lakers of the early 2000’s were all super teams of their respective eras, and as a result, they are the teams we remember. We remember being amazed at Michael coming back and winning 3 more titles or the slick passing of the Showtime Lakers, but what we don’t remember are the average teams that win a title in a down year. Super teams provide a storyline that keep people talking about the NBA just a little bit longer, which is what it needs at a time when the NFL is quickly becoming a 12-month sport. The season, the playoffs, the draft, free agency, the Olympics or FIBA World Championships… these are all elements that keep us talking about the NBA year round. Kevin Durant and the Warriors have single-handedly taken over water cooler talk at work… at least this year. Without these storylines, professional basketball will fade into the background, like baseball. The MLB’s best players even admit that their sport lacks star power. The NBA doesn’t, and what better way to amplify that star power than to have them join forces and make history.

Pat Riley and Magic Johnson Game Portrait

Kevin Durant to the Warriors has provided us with the narrative that will define the rest of this decade. The Warriors, newly retooled, are the largest roadblock to Lebron’s quest to end his career as the greatest player ever. Because of Kevin Durant and his decision, the 2010’s are shaping up to become one of the most important decades in NBA history, and we should all be grateful. If Golden State wins it all, they could be one of the greatest teams ever assembled. If they lose, it could be one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Free agency moves like LeBron’s in 2010 and KD’s this year are what leaves an imprint in the minds of basketball fans for years to come.

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NBA fans better get used to the idea of super teams… because it has existed for decades, and it won’t be changing anytime soon.

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  Alex Richter

Avid sports fan specializing in NFL and NCAA football. University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. Living in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

Twitter: @richterat13

What To Do With The White Sox?

Typical for me to start off my BDSSP debut talking about my favorite baseball team. Being in the AL Central, you would expect a lot of scratching and clawing for first place in the division. However, the Twins are one of the worst teams in the league, and are so far behind everyone that there are no worries about getting last place. Nonetheless, when you have players like Jose Abreu, Chris Sale and newly acquired Todd Frazier, you would expect at least division champs, but they’re not quite there yet.

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Coming out of the All Star break at a record of 45-43, they lost three straight to the struggling Los Angeles Angels, who themselves are having an extremely difficult year at 14.5 games back of the division-leading Texas Rangers. For those that have followed the White Sox for a while, you know that they have coined the term “rollercoaster” when describing their seasons of late. After the opening month of the 2016, with a record of 17-8, people (such as myself) were hoping for a Chicago vs. Chicago World Series… that was until reality set in.

The following month, they went 11-17 to bring their record to 28-25. Usually I’d be jumping for joy with a record like that, but considering Cleveland (with the help of LeBron and the Cavs) are one of the hottest teams in the league, and the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals are looking for a repeat, it’s not good enough.

It certainly doesn’t help to have a seven-game losing streak in May, a five-game losing streak in June, and start the second half of the season being swept by the Angels. So much backlash, so much criticism…seems like the same old song and dance for the South Side. I honestly thought this offseason was one of the more productive offseasons the Sox have had in a while with notable signings that included 2nd baseman Brett Lawrie, catchers Dioner Navarro and ex-Tiger Alex Avila, ex-Cubs outfielder Austin Jackson, and of course the 2015 HR Derby champ, 3rd baseman Todd “Todd Father” Frazier.

Chicago White Sox's Todd Frazier, right, celebrates with Brett Lawrie (15) after hitting a three-run home run off Oakland Athletics' Chris Bassitt during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Sure, the division is still up for grabs, but we have struggled against the teams in our division, which is certainly not helping our cause. Another thing that is not helping our cause is the inability to find that third punch after the 1-2 rotation of Sale and Jose Quintana. But wait, we got James Shields from the Padres, so that should solve it, right? Nope. He’s 2-4 with a 6.43 ERA.

So with all this helter skelter, who do we blame? Robin Ventura (manager), Don Cooper (pitching coach), Rick Hahn (general manager)? As fans, it seems at this point it doesn’t matter. Whatever the majority of us demand, there is a 99.99% chance it won’t happen. But with the MLB trade deadline coming up, it’d be interesting to see if anything gets done. No way we’re catching Cleveland, who are 9 games ahead of us, but there’s still somewhat of a chance we can get the second wild card spot.

AL wild card 7-18-16

However, we have to win in order to have a shot at it.

matt

   Matt Hrncar

Raised in a competitive family, sports has been the majority of my life. Not only playing but watching as well. Born in Oak Lawn, IL (suburb of Chicago), I tend to have a bias, but I try to keep an open mind. Nonetheless, I enjoy watching and talking sports.

Twitter: @ChiTownGuy24

What to watch: Summer League Championship (Chicago Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves)

Tonight is the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship on ESPN2, and we are in for a treat. I know what most people are thinking… does summer league even matter?

Well my answer to that is… kind of. As we saw this summer, the No. 1 pick Ben Simmons sat a number of games for rest, which took away from the excitement and importance of the process. However, the NBA, although a team sport, is the most individualistic team sport of the Big 4, meaning that one player can win you a game. With that being said, we get to watch two 2016 All-Americans and the 2015 Final Four Most Outstanding Player tonight.

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More than just the fact that it is a title game of sorts, the two teams playing provide us with some interesting headlines. One, the Bulls were in negotiations to possibly trade Jimmy Butler to the Wolves, which would have landed them the No. 5 pick, Kris Dunn. Two, former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is now Minnesota’s new head coach. And three, we get to see the 2016 LV Summer League MVP Tyus Jones continue to make life difficult for the Minnesota coaching staff.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Tyus Jones #1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 13, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Timberwolves have four solid point guards heading into the 2016-17 season (Jones, Dunn, Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine). The age old saying about NFL quarterbacks is if you have two good QB’s, you have no good QB’s. To a lesser extent, that can be true for NBA point guards, as they are the leaders on the court. Now, the league has experienced a bit of a shift when it comes to guards, especially point guards. Small guards have been playing together the last few seasons. For example, Damien Lilliard and CJ McCollum in Portland or any combination of Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and now Tyler Ulis in Phoenix. So, maybe they go small in the backcourt, considering the front line of Wiggins, Towns and Pekovic is solid.

As for the Bulls, many critics were bashing them for the moves they made this summer. It has been well documented that Rondo, Wade and Butler are not three point threats, leaving Chicago with a hole in that department. However, the young Bulls are now 6-0 in summer league. Second year man Bobby Portis was voted onto the summer league first team, and rookie Denzel Valentine has impressed thus far. Felicio has been a beast in the paint as well. On top of the recent success, the Bulls have young stars like Jerian Grant, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to add to the veteran backcourt.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 12: Bobby Portis #5 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 12, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Wolves are on the come-up, and the Bulls were said to be entering a rebuilding mode… but I think that both of these teams may be misrepresented by these assumptions. Minnesota has solid young talent, but let’s not forget that they play in the West, which still has 3 or 4 powerhouses. On the other hand, the Bulls play in the East, where aside from the Cavs, there are no real top tier teams.

Ultimately, the winner of this game may be irrelevant, especially without a headline like last year (Becky Hammon won the title as Spurs HC). However, these will be two of the more unpredictable and interesting teams this season… making this a game to watch.

And let’s face it… it’s July. You can only watch so much baseball.

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 Paul Schaum

Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.

How the NCAA can make the College Football Playoff even better

Today’s NCAA College Football Playoff is one of the most exciting changes to the sports landscape in years and has the potential to be the largest source of income for the NCAA. Seen by most as a vast improvement over the outdated BCS system, the playoff can finally bring a sense of parity to the college football landscape. However, the viewership in 2016 decreased by 36 percent, so there is always room for improvement. I believe the following changes would maximize revenue for the NCAA, while also bringing a sense of parity among the Power 5 Conferences.

Bringing change to the College Football Playoff system has to start with scheduling differences among the conferences. Within the Power 5 conferences, there are several different formats that the conferences have to adhere to. For example, the Big 12 plays every school within the conference without divisions, SEC schools throw in “cupcake” games against FCS opponents, and the Big Ten has recently changed to a nine game conference schedule without FCS opponents. Within my newly proposed system, the Power 5 programs would be required to play only other Power 5 schools… including Independent FBS schools like Notre Dame. It would completely separate the FBS schools from the FCS schools and would increase competition within all five conferences in hopes of achieving more parity in college football. An example of a Big Ten Schedule would be nine conference games plus an SEC, Pac 12 and ACC opponent.

power 5

The ultimate motivating factor within the NCAA is the same as any other organization—money. In order to maximize the potential earning by increasing interest and national viewership, I propose increasing the CFP to eight teams. These eight teams would be decided as follows: seeds 1-5 are the conference champions ranked according to the AP poll with three “wild card” bids going to the next highest ranked teams that didn’t win their conference. (I know what you’re thinking… YES, Notre Dame would have to join a conference). With the conferences having similar schedules, the College Football Playoff would be able to reward teams based on record, as opposed to the current system of the committee picking the teams to enter the College Football Playoff. Having a guaranteed playoff contender from each conference would solidify the viewership from every region of the country and ultimately drive up ratings nationwide.

The final step in increasing and maintaining the viewership of the College Football Playoff would be to give the Playoffs its own separate entity, separate from the College Bowl Season. This change would increase the presence of the CFP, while also maintaining the integrity of the crumbling bowl season. In the 2015-16 bowl season, there were 41 bowls played but only 77 bowl eligible teams (6-6 record or better), so the NCAA had to invite teams with a 5-7 record to fill the empty slots in the remaining bowl games. While the increase in the number of bowls would theoretically increase overall revenue, I propose increasing the bowls for the elite schools at the top… not the bottom. This would involve adding an entire College Football Playoff system, similar to the NFL Playoffs, and have the rest of the teams play in the other bowls. It would maintain the lure of getting into a larger bowl for the teams that may have lost a conference championship game and would also keep “traditional” bowl games with their respective conferences.

rose bowl

For example, the Rose Bowl would be the loser of the Big Ten Championship against the loser of the Pac 12 Championship. Overall, I believe this would increase revenue and competition at the top of the rankings and would remove many of the bowls at the bottom that may need a 5-7 team.

Overall, the CFP has changed NCAA football for the better. It just needs a few more tweaks before reaching its full financial and entertainment potential. With time will come improvement, and I believe it should happen sooner rather than later.

alex

  Alex Richter

Avid sports fan specializing in NFL and NCAA football. University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. Living in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

Twitter: @richterat13

Which NBA Star will have the best season with their new team?

Henrik Stenson wins first major title in historic fashion

In the midst of the next generation takeover in golf, we were able to see two old guys duke it out for a major championship this weekend. No, one of those guys was not Tiger Woods; however, one of them was Phil Mickelson.

The weekend was looking good for the 46-year-old when he started the tournament on fire, but it was a sign of things to come when he was unable to sink his birdie putt on 18 to finish with the first 62 in a major championship. Instead, he finished tied for the record with a first-round 63.

Stenson has been a top-tier golfer for almost 15 years, but the 40-year-old had never won a major heading into the weekend. He was not going to be denied his first Open title this time around as he finished with four straight sub-70 rounds.

Stenson

Stenson capped his magical run with style, sinking a 20-foot putt on 18 at Royal Troon. He walked away with the Claret Jug and a number of records including the lowest total amount of strokes in a major championship (264).

The PGA veteran became the first male Swedish golfer to win a major and the ninth golfer to win his first major at the age of 40 or older. His previous best finish was tied for second at the 2013 Open in which Mickelson won.

Mickelson’s 11 major championship runner-up finishes ranks second all-time, behind only Jack Nicklaus (19).

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Paul Schaum

Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.