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Baseball, golf riding crest of good fortunes

L’Observateur / July 29, 1998

Thoughts that crossed my mind as I waited for a chance to hit golf balls at the driving range at Bayou Oaks.

You think golf is not riding a crest of good luck? The PGA, LPGA and Seniors tours have all had exciting majors this year.

The first three PGA majors have been close and all three have had great story lines. First, there was Jack Nicklaus, Mark Kuchar, Fred Couples andMark O’Meara at the Masters. Then Kuchar, Payne Stewart and Lee Janzenat the U.S. Open. Finally, O’Meara, Brian Watts and Justin Rose at theBritish Open.

Se Ri Pak wins her second major of the LPGA season at the U.S. Open, tearsup the field with a record 61 the following week and wins her third tournament in four weeks this past weekend. Not bad for a rookie.And Hale Irwin sinks a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to edge out Vicente Fernandez and Raymond Floyd for the Senior U.S. Open title Sunday. Andalthough he was never in the hunt, there was Nicklaus, battling pain, shooting a 67 on the final day.

* Another sport basking in sunlight now is baseball. Although there are onlytwo really good division races (AL West, NL Central), the wildcards are keeping fans interested in everyday wins and losses. And in addition toadding excitement to the races, the wildcard is also creating more trades as teams try to remain in the playoff hunt. Teams like the Cubs, Mets,Giants, Red Sox and Orioles – which would otherwise be preparing for next year – are seeking to improve themselves for this season.

There is also the not-so-small matter of the home run chase. MarkMcGwire, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa and Greg Vaughn are all chasingRoger Maris, keeping the media from focusing on one candidate and improving the chances that the record will be broken. Hack Wilson’s 190runs batted in record is being threatened for one of the first times in 67 years by Juan Gonzalez.

To cap it off, baseball corrected one of its longtime omissions by finally electing Larry Doby into the Hall of Fame. Doby, the first black player toplay in the American League, was an instrumental figure in the history of the game and should have been inducted years ago. Also entering the Hallwere Don Sutton, “Bullet” Joe Rogan, Lee McPhail Jr., Jaime Jarrin andSam Lacy.

* Another event that was overshadowed at Coopers-town was the naming of the new research center at the Hall of Fame after former commissioner A.

Bartlett Giametti. One can only wonder what the game would be like ifGiametti, who was as big a fan of the game as they come, would have lived to serve more than five months at the helm.

* Overlooked in what looks like another year of the hitter is the number of pitchers who have a chance to win 20 games this season. Boston’s PedroMartinez, New York’s David Cone, San Diego’s Andy Ashby and Atlanta’s Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine all could reach that mark this season.

* With the resignation of team president Carmen Policy and the 49er players getting up there in age, which team will be the dominant team in the NFC West as the next millennium opens? The Panthers, Rams, Falcons and Saints do not look like they have improved themselves tremendously over the past couple of years. The West could look like the AFC Central a fewyears back when no teams finished better than .500.

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