Hope you had a great weekend. And the 5-at-10 compound, we focused on a plethora of chores that had backed up during our extended run at our desk during football preview stuff.
But it's here, and it's all happening.
From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...
Clever like a Fox
UTC senior golfer Steven Fox gets huge, Huge, HUGE high 5s all round for rallying from 2 down with two holes to play and winning on the first playoff hole to claim the biggest prize in amateur golf — the U.S. Amateur.
Here's TFP golf ace David Uchiyama's recap of the events http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/aug/20/utcs-fox-rallies-to-win-us-amateur-chattanooga/.
We can make a real argument that this is the biggest moment in UTC sports history and it's a slam-dunk for the 10-plus years the 5-at-10 has been in town.
Wow, just wow.
It was amazing golf, and Fox never flinched. Dude was a stone-cold killer. Down two he won on the 35th hole with birdie and watched as runner-up Drew Weaver's 5-footer for par and victory lipped our on the 36th hole.
On the first playoff hole, Weaver's wheels were starting to come, feeling the affects of his lipped-out chance to win eight minutes earlier, Weaver hooked his driver on the short par-4 first hole. He chunked his approach and hit his chip thin. He had a 15-footer to save par and was left to wrestle with the ever-painful emotions of coming this close.
Fox left nothing to chance, stepping on the gas and pouring in his 18-footer for birdie and likely invitations to the Masters (we've played it, nice track), the U.S. Open and the British Open.
Dude had a good day, huh? And so did UTC, which got mentioned in every meaningful newspaper across the country this morning and had a three-hour commercial on NBC Sunday with Fox parading around with the Mocs' Power C on his clothes and "Chattanooga" on his blue and gold bag.
Sports at its core
Of all the different sports and athletes and moments and everything, our favorite part of athletics in general is the emotion of the games. The intensity, the dealing with pressure, the handling of adversity, the moment. Ah, the moment.
Steve Fox embraced the moment and mastered it. It was a pleasure to watch.
But as we try to peel back the core of sports and the underbelly of what makes sports fun, it's about connection as much as it is emotion.
We need a connection, a rooting interest to truly be invested. Steven Fox gave us that Sunday and we should be grateful. Think of it this way, if that had been Drew Weaver and some cat named Stephen Box from Pigsnuckle, Ark., and it played out the same way, it would have been great emotion and a nice moment. But we wouldn't have cared too much. Why? Because we feel the connection with Fox.
And that connection is everything.
Don't think so? How many swimming events have you watched this month? How many did you watch in the previous three years? Same competitors, same sport, but different venue and the fact that Phelps, Locte, Franklin, et al., were swimming for the U-S-of-A gives us the connection we need to be vested.
Maybe it's the ESPN-azation of sports in general. There are so many sports on TV 24-7-365 that we have to tune out all the other sports save the ones we're connected to. It used to be there were two national baseball games on a week — One on Saturday and ABC's Monday Night Baseball. The rest were highlights on Saturday morning's This Week in Baseball with Mel Allen (great show by the way).
Now, you could watch three baseball games a night if you were so inclined and heavily in debt to your cable company.
It's the connection, and that connection can not be more felt than when we have a local kid excel like Steve Fox or when out country or schools or towns are represented in everything from frisbee to football or archery to yodeling.
Listify brother, LIST-I-FY
We have covered a slew of different lists from the college football realm, and while the battle of middle earth is about 10 days away, we're still committed to reviewing any number of top-five lists. We have covered who is the most pirate coach in college football and the who is the most ninja college football coach and who are the leading Heisman candidates.
So today, we're going to cover the top five most valuable players — quarterback edition. This is different from Heisman candidates; these are the guys that if world came tomorrow any one of these five had torn an ACL, there'd be folks that would call in sick on Tuesday and look for ways to send back the season ticket money.
1) Matt Barkley, USC: Dude came back for his senior season and the entire Trojans' title shot is built around their quarterback.
2) Denard Robinson, Michigan: Denard is electric, and the Wolverines are a week 1 win over Alabama from being favored in every game and poised to make a BCS title game appearance. If Mr. Robinson falls, so does Michigan. Ku ku ca choo.
3) Aaron Murray, Georgia: The Bulldogs have a stout defense and a relatively easy schedule (no Arkansas, LSU or Alabama) so big things could be attained. Without Murray, those big goals — winning the East, playing in a BCS bowl, even upsetting the West winner and playing for all the marbles — are pipe dreams.
4) Tyler Bray, Tennessee: We believe the Vols' have the biggest swing radius in all of college football; this group could win five games or it could win 10, and everything in between is an option. If Bray goes down, though, those wide-ranging options become winning five games or winning six and heading to Nashville.
5) Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech: The Hokies star has a lot of Cam Newton-type attributes. Big, fast, athletic and with a rocket arm, Thomas is a top-five NFL prospect (we love the draft; you know this).
— Dodgers looked good — and how much money is Hanley Ramierz making himself right now — and the Braves stalled in the three-game set between the clubs in the A-T-L. Despite dropping two of three, the Braves certainly are in a good spot, as TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer reminds us here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/aug/20/last-years-slide-aside-braves-still-in-good-spot/.
— Jeff Gordon got his feelings hurt during Sunday's NASCAR race. He was upset that Dale Junior passed him. (Hey, it's Michigan, and nobody this side of Jivin' Jim Tressel owns Michigan more than Dale Jr.) This is actually a good thing. When Gordon is acting like a baby, we know that he's actually invested in the event and feels his team has a chance. We spent the last two-plus years with Gordon being an afterthought which is no good. Gordon acting like an adolescent, though, gives us yet another contender.
— On the irony chart this has to be a 212, right? Danica Patrick was leading the Nationwide race this weekend when track debris caused damage to her car and for all intents ended her chance at winning. The track debris was a shoe. Yes, a shoe thrown onto the track by a fan. And hey, we all know nothing can get the attention of a female quicker than an interesting pair of shoes. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nascar-from-the-marbles/while-leading-montreal-danica-patrick-hits-shoe-222709159--nascar.html
— OK, we know Melky Cabrera's steroid cheater. Apparently he wants to dabble in cyber-terrorism, too. Cabrera and his peeps tried to pull a fraud by setting up a fake website to convince the players union and MLB that he unknowingly ordered some supplement that spiked his testosterone levels without his knowledge. Somewhere, during his 50-game suspension, here's hoping he plays Connect Four and looks across and says, "Pretty sneaky, ese."
— It was great to have high school football in the air Friday night, and major league props to East Hamilton and LaughingBoy. First the Hurricanes flat slapped Signal Mountain around. Second, LB said Baylor was the best team in the area (we had previously stated our belief that Signal was the area's best) and that played out Friday. East Hamilton and power runner Logan Jackson deserve some major props this morning.
-- There is the glory of connecting between fans and teams, and then there is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUMFDr3bHe4&feature=youtube_gdata_player. There's connecting with your team, and there is getting married with the clergy in an official's jersey and Big Al storming the front and the Alabama theme song playing as you walk back up the aisle. Watch this and tell us how big of an upset is it that there was not a "Roll Tide" at some point in the ceremony.
You know we love the draft. We also love that there was meaningful football on the TV this weekend — high school stuff and some NFL preseason games in which starters played all of the first half. Yay.
We watched with interest the Colts-Steelers game Sunday night and we could not be more impressed with Andrew Luck. Seriously. Here's a baseline for our praise — he looks like a young Peyton Manning but is more athletic.
In fact, if you had to start your NFL team today, who are you taking first?
Here's our top five: Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Matt Stafford and maybe Jason Pierre-Paul.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...