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THE MASTERS AND LESS THAN MASTERFUL BULLPENS

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / April 20, 1998

A few points to ponder during the 15 minutes between selections in today’s NFL Draft…* Mark O’Meara is a class act and a deserving Masters champion, but I was cheering just a little bit for David Duval. I would have loved to have seenthe staid and formal members of the Masters put a green jacket on a guy with a goatee and sunglasses.

* Speaking of O’Meara, you look up delivering in the clutch in the dictionary this week and his picture should be in it. Two birdie putts on the final twoholes to win perhaps the most prestigious golfing event in the world (those in Great Britain would probably disagree with me)? Most golfers will tell you how hard it would be to sink even one of them.

* But even O’Meara was overshadowed by the Golden Bear. Just watchingJack Nicklaus on the first couple of holes, climbing the leaderboard as CBS began its coverage, was enough to get goosebumps. Tiger Woods, Ernie Elsand Justin Leonard may be the future of golf, but there is nothing wrong with watching its past have more shining moments.

* The Seattle Mariners’ bullpen had blown three saves going into Monday and have accounted for four of the team’s eight losses. So what do theMariners do Monday? They fire their pitching coach, Nardi Contreras and promote Stan Williams to the position. And what does the bullpen do onWilliams’ first day on the job? It blows a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning to Cleveland. Two words for you, Lou Pinella – “complete games.”* Which brings me to the question to why with all the talk of scarcity of good pitching in the big leagues, there are fewer complete games. Badpitching replacing bad pitching, and sometimes replacing good pitching, does not help a team. Look around the league and see how many teamstoday do not have even decent bullpens.

An example of this craziness came when the Phillies played the Braves over the weekend. Philadelphia’s Curt Schilling and Atlanta’s Greg Madduxwere locked in a scoreless duel for eight innings, both pitchers dominating the opposing batters. The Braves pinch hit for Maddux in the ninth and thebullpen gives up the winning run in the bottom of the inning, giving Schilling a complete game victory.

You would think with all the talk about how today’s ballplayers are in such better condition than their predecessors, they could go the distance like the oldtimers did.

* Hey, if only the shot clock operators in Miami and Alabama could get together. Remember the First Law of Shot Clocks – the probability of aclock dispute is directly proportional to the importance of the game.

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