Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Masters Week...and more

A tradition unlike any other...The Masters.

You'll be hearing that phrase a bunch over the next four days. The Masters tees it up on Thursday, and Phil Mickelson predicts a "birdie-fest," if rains continue to soak the golf course. Still, the first major of the year always seem to bring out the very best play, from the very best players on the planet.

Tiger Woods is the pre-tournament favorite, but there are about 30 other players in this field that can be slipping on a green blazer at the end of the week. Rory Mcllroy likely feels like Augusta owes him one, Hunter Mahan won last week in Houston, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, and others could be the ones taking advantage of soft greens, thanks to the rains that have fallen there already.

On a personal note, I'll be making my first ever trip to Augusta for this event. Will try to capture my visit with words, as photos are not allowed to be taken on tournament days.

NASCAR gets this weekend off for Easter, and that's a good thing, since so many drivers were unhappy with David Reutimann in Martinsville. It's a tough spot to be in. Reutimann is driving the Cup series ride on weeks when Danica Patrick is not, so keeping that car in the top 35 in points is vital to keep it locked into each week's field. Reutimann was doing all he could to nurse a wounded car around the 1/2 mile track, but it finally gave out. Should he have been sent to the garage for not maintaining minimum speed? Absolutely, but he tried to make it. His breakdown (the car just stopped on the track) ended a dream scenario for Hendrick Motorsports, as 3 of their 4 cars were in the top 3 with just a few laps left.

Ultimately, NASCAR should have stopped Reutimann when he wasn't maintaining minimum speed. Period. It's not NASCAR's job to keep a car in the top 35, that falls on the team and driver. To an outsider, it would look like NASCAR bent as much as they could to try and help Reutimann stay on the track, but not for himself, but for the chance to keep Patrick locked into the field when she runs in Cup again. NASCAR knows the bang Patrick brings to racing. They realize the coverage NASCAR gets when Patrick is there, and her missing the race is bad for business. Business, however, should never overtake the competition side of NASCAR. I can understand why someone would accuse NASCAR of trying to keep Patrick's in the field. I don't think that's what happened here, but only NASCAR knows for sure.

A couple observations on the baseball season:

1-It started last week in Japan. Yeah, I know you missed it too. Sadly, the start of a professional league season went completely unnoticed by everyone except the two teams that played. It was Seattle and Oakland, by the way.

2-The Miami Marlins unveiled their new ballpark Wednesday night in the stateside MLB opener. What a building. Absolutely gorgeous on TV. I didn't like the pre-game though. Here's why.

Muhammad Ali was brought out in pre-game in a golf cart. The champ's health has been in decline for years. Seeing him sitting there, shaking uncontrollably is not the way I wish to see one of America's greatest sports icons. I was sad watching him. I don't want him to be put away or anything, but teams trying to capitalize on their big events by bringing Ali out just seems wrong to me. I remember Ali as the original trash talker, and as one of the most amazing heavyweights ever. He'll always be The Greatest.

Another thing that "struck out" with me, the National Anthem, as performed by Jose Feliciano. Wonderful artist, but the song wasn't written like that. Same goes for "The Fray" at the NCAA final. C'mon people, ya gotta have some respect for the song that represents the country in which you live. I know I have railed on this in the past, but two bad ones in a week? There is only one, and I mean ONE artist that is exempt from my criticism of Anthem performing.

Jimi Hendrix. Period.

Mike Solarte

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