Top summer sports lessons

By Frank Vanderwall

Well, last week was already a bust since Tampa Bay called up Delmon Young earlier this week, ruining my prediction that he would be forced to wallow in the minors for one last year due to his behavior. Luckily, I have him on my fantasy team and he’s tearing it up so far. Maybe I should predict bad things for all my players in the DI.

Anyway, welcome back to the top 10 sports lessons I learned this summer. In this edition numbers four and three, enjoy.

4) Tiger Woods is still on another level from the rest of the field.

Now, I’m not saying that at any point I lost faith in Tiger, or his potential, but I did think the rest of the field was starting to catch up to him in on-course performance. Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and a few other golfers appeared to have just as good of a shot to win every tournament as Tiger. This summer all of that changed.

Woods start to the season was pretty mediocre (by Tiger standards). Woods won only two times between January and June. He lost his Father Earl on May 3, just six days after, Tiger played in the Masters Tournament, the first tournament he ever won. He played his heart out for his dad, but came up just short – tying for third place.

After the Masters, Tiger took two months off to grieve his father’s death and enjoy some time with his family. When he finally returned on June 18 for the U.S. Open, Tiger looked not only like he had lost his father, but that he had lost his swing. Woods opened with back-to-back 76’s and missed the cut.

After another three weeks off, Tiger came back with what would develop into maybe his best swing ever and a new approach to course management.

Woods came back in a big way after his terrible performance in the U.S. open and finished tied for second at the Western Open.

Since his great play at Cog Hill, Woods has rattled off five straight victories in a row, including a British Open Championship, without his driver, and a dominant win at the PGA Championship.

It’s not just the wins that are so impressive, but rather the way he’s been hitting the ball. In the first four wins of his current streak, he’s hit 77.1% of greens in regulation, posted a 68.3% driving accuracy, averaged 30.7 putts per round, and carded an average score of 67 over his last four tournaments.

These numbers are very similar to the numbers Woods posted in 1999-2000 when he won six straight tour events. During that run he averaged 78.6% GIR, 74.8% drive accuracy, 31.32 putts, and a score of 68 per round.

Tiger is indeed back, and he’s as good as he’s ever been. If anyone was wondering if he was indeed slipping, Tiger has responded with a resounding no. Oh yeah and he won again this weekend. Tiger 5, the field zero.

3) Crucial times not to pitch to Travis Hafner & David Ortiz.

I should probably write a book about this and sell it to every American League pitcher in baseball, but I’ll see if I can squeeze it into about 400 words.

Travis Hafner of the Cleveland Indians and David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox are the two most feared hitters in baseball, especially in crucial situations.

Hafner is as good at hitting grand slams as George Steinbrenner is at spending money. And Ortiz’s walk-off situation statistics aren’t even comparable to anything other than that ridiculous win streak the Harlem Globe Trotters were on in the 90’s. Seriously, take a look at these numbers.

In at-bats with the bases loaded this season, Hafner is hitting .517 with 6 home runs and 29 RBI’s. If that were not enough, Hafner has also scored 18 runs with the bases loaded.

Okay, AL pitchers, listen up. If you’re playing Cleveland and they have the bases loaded and Hafner is within 500 feet of the ballpark, do whatever you can in your power not to throw a pitch. Fake an injury, mill around the infield until it starts raining, or start arguing balls and strikes so you can get ejected. Trust me, from here on out, nothing good will happen to you if you don’t get off the mound.

Alright, Hafner’s really, really good. We’ve proven that. He might even be better then Ortiz in a normal mid-game clutch situation like say, a runner on second with two outs. However, no one comes close to Ortiz’s ability to deliver the knockout blow in a baseball game.

Eight times so far this season David Ortiz has come to the plate in a potential walk-off situation (Meaning Ortiz had a chance to win the game with his at-bat). In those at-bats, Ortiz is five-for-six with three home runs, 10 RBI’s and two walks.

This is not by any means a fluke season either. Since 2004, Ortiz has batted 13 times with a chance to win the game. He has delivered the game-winning hit 11 times and walked intentionally the other two.

The man is virtually impossible to get out with the game on the line. I’m sorry to say it AL pitchers, but I don’t have a solution for this one. Go ahead and walk him. I guess at least then he doesn’t get the game-winning hit. The only problem is Manny Ramirez hits behind him.

The pitchers only option is to wake up and realize that it’s not really happening; that it was all just some crazy nightmare. Unfortunately, for anyone who’s ever faced Ortiz in this situation, it’s not a nightmare, it’s the reality that is David Ortiz, one of the greatest clutch hitters of all time.

Frank Vanderwall is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]