Uga VI, the mascot of the Georgia Bulldogs since 1999, has died.
I’m not a Georgia fan, obviously, but Uga (pronounced "uh-guh") is pretty freakin’ cool. Not as cool as Traveler, of course, but cool nonetheless. R.I.P., Uga VI.
SportsPickle’s DJ Gallo writes a handy guide to being a bandwagon fan for ESPN’s Page 2. Money quote: “don’t let [people] anywhere near your car. They might get the wrong impression when they see that your bumper is covered in Red Sox, Yankees, Lakers, Celtics, Cowboys, Patriots, USC football and Duke basketball stickers. As though it’s your fault that you have deep, childhood ties to all those teams!” Heh.
Speaking of which, hey, how ’bout those Cubs? ;)
Today at the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods needed a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff tomorrow with Rocco Mediate. So, what happened? Well, what do you think happened? This is Tiger Woods we’re talking about. Of course he made it. Here’s the video:
UPDATE: Tiger did it again, and won.
You know those "House Divided" license plates — they’re really popular here in the South — for families in which the spouses root for rival schools? Well, the governor and first lady of California have something similar going on, except it relates to politics rather than sports, and it’s on their house instead of their car:
(As for those license plates, I need a customized USC/Notre Dame version that says "A Man Divided." Heh. Okay, not really, but it’d look cool, anyway…)
Last week, I confessed that, although the rational side of my brain is undecided between Barack Obama and John McCain, the “portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help ‘rooting’ for Obama” because he is “the scrappy mid-major going up against the staid, boring, established program; he’s Boise State against Oklahoma (’They said this day would never come: a WAC team in a BCS bowl! Yes, we can!’), he’s Appalachian State against Michigan… or, as McCain might prefer to say, he’s Hawaii against Georgia.”
Now, Ben Smith uses a college-football metaphor, saying that Obama’s 50-state, expand-the-map strategy is the political equivalent of the “spread offense.”
If so, Obama’s definitely going to win Michigan. :)
Tonight at 6:17 PM EDT, Big Brown goes for the Triple Crown at the Belmont.
The horse who was expected to challenge him, Casino Drive, injured his hoof and won’t be racing, so Big Brown would seem to have a pretty clear path to the first Triple Crown in 30 years.
I’m not sure if I’ll be watching live or not; we’re going with Barb to Dixie Stampede at 4:00, and may not be back in time. But I’ll be TiVoing the race, and will try to enter a self-imposed news blackout (cell phone off, etc.) from 6:15 on, if I’m not in front of a TV yet. :)
Go Big Brown!!
UPDATE: Big Brown finished dead last after jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled him up during the stretch — he was running third at the time, though losing ground to eventual winner Da’ Tara — because Desormeaux believed something was wrong with Big Brown. “I had no horse,” Desormeaux said. “This horse is the best I’ve ever ridden. Something’s wrong, and I took care of him.”
Noted equine veterinarian Larry Bramlage appeared to disagree with the jockey’s snap judgment that something was wrong with Big Brown. “He looked fine during the race,” Dr. Bramlage said. “All I saw was when Desormeaux slowed him down. The veterinarian inspection team did not find anything wrong with him and he was not lame.”
In any event, Da’ Tara, the longest shot in the field at 39-1, won by 5 1/2 lengths. Denis of Cork, my horse of choice in the Derby because of his Irish name and his Notre Dame connection, came in second. Anak Nakal and Ready’s Echo finished in a dead heat for third place.
The Detroit Red Wings are Stanley Cup champions.
It’s official: the NBA Finals will feature the league’s top seeds in a 1980s-style clash of titans: Lakers vs. Celtics.
As I mentioned earlier, my parents are in town this weekend, and tonight my dad and I went to a Tennessee Smokies game. I had totally forgotten that Notre Dame’s Jeff Samardzija is a Smokie (er, a Smoky?), but he is, and there he was, standing in the dugout right in front of us:
I couldn’t resist saying something, so I walked up to the edge of the dugout and yelled “Hey, Jeff!” a couple of times until he heard me and looked over. I then said, “Go Irish!” He responded with a sort of half-smile and quasi-acknowledgment that suggested he gets that all the time from Notre Dame fans who feel so passionately about the Irish that they figure it’s perfectly reasonable to treat famous ND alums like long-lost buddies and thus randomly say “Go Irish” at them. Heh.
Alas, Samardzija wasn’t pitching tonight, but it was cool to see him anyway. He’s got a blog, by the way.
Anyway, the Smokies won the game, 8-3, and we had a good time. Here are a few more pictures:
The Indy 500 is underway. Danica Patrick is in 13th place right now. For Danica's sake, here's hoping Hillary Clinton didn't place any bets on her. :)
UPDATE: Title changed (from “Gentlemen and lady, start your engines”) after Lisa pointed out that there were three women in the race: Patrick, Milka Duno, and Sarah Fisher. All three crashed and did not finish, and Patrick was distinctly unhappy about it. Scott Dixon won the race.
The Jed Report makes an entertaining analogy.
Meanwhile, Hillary herself pens an op-ed explaining her RFK remarks, and outlining her case for why she’s still in the race. It’s basically a repetition of the same bogus arguments that she’s been using all along (popular vote, swing states, etc.), plus a newly explicit playing of the gender card (”as the first female candidate in this position, I believe I have a responsibility to finish this race”) and a veritably Nixonian line about how “my parents did not raise me to be a quitter.” Notably, the op-ed barely mentions Michigan and Florida, and doesn’t specifically use them as an independent rationale for continuing her campaign. Is she backing away from the precipice?
In any event, I think it’s telling that she feels the need to defend herself in this fashion. It’s never a good sign, methinks, when you’re reduced to penning newspaper columns explaining why you haven’t dropped out of the race yet. It’s even worse when you’re saying things like: “I am not unaware of the challenges or the odds of my securing the nomination - but this race remains extraordinarily close.” Yeah, it’s close, but so is a basketball game where one team is up by 4 and has the ball with 1.2 seconds left. It’s close, but it’s over. And it sounds like Hillary might be starting to realize that.
Another no-hitter at Fenway. w00t!
Big Brown will be the first horse to arrive at the Belmont with a chance for the Triple Crown since Smarty Jones in 2004 — and if he achieves it, he’ll be the first to do so in 30 years, since Affirmed in 1978. Eleven horses since then have won the Derby and the Preakness but lost in the Belmont, six of those between 1997 and 2004. (Silver Charm did it in ‘97, Real Quiet in ‘98, Charismatic in ‘99, War Emblem in ‘02, Funny Cide in ‘03 and Smarty Jones in ‘04.)
Against a group of competitors better suited to a race like the Ohio Derby than a Triple Crown event, [Big Brown] can regress by several lengths and still beat this field easily. He is the only Grade I winner in the field and only one of two horses (along with Gayego) to crack the 100 mark on the Beyer Speed Figures. The competition stinks.
The only way to handicap the race is to pick the winner of the other race, the 12-horse contest for second place. From a betting and handicapping standpoint, that’s a pretty interesting, wide-open event. I’ve got it down to five horses: Macho Again, Tres Borrachos, Kentucky Bear, Riley Tucker and Giant Moon. I will use this quintet underneath Big Brown in every exotic wager imaginable.
Incidentally, Finley predicts Big Brown will lose the Belmont in three weeks. If so, he’d be the eleventh straight Derby-Preakness winner to lose the Belmont with a Triple Crown on the line.