- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2008

The future of the Capitals has never been brighter. They now have - after last week’s handing out of hardware - a 22-year-old MVP, a 20-year-old Rookie of the Year runner-up and a (age withheld out of consideration for Bruce Boudreau) Coach of the Year.

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In fact, if I were the Caps’ equipment manager, I’d be stocking up on silver polish. Before Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Boudreau are through, the club is going to need a new display case.

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Don’t you just love headlines like:

“U.S. Open: Tiger’s to lose?”

I mean, come on, it’s not just the Open that’s Tiger’s to lose, it’s the world that’s Tiger’s to lose, the galaxy that’s Tiger’s to lose. The man is the Google of golf.

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Memo to Colin Montgomerie: You can’t whine about not getting invited to the Masters and then shoot 79-77 - 14 over, for those of you scoring at home - in the first two rounds at Torrey Pines. Not, at least, if you ever want to be taken seriously again.

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The Quote of the Week comes (via the New York Times) from Jim Hardy, 2007 PGA teacher of the year: “The most valuable shot in golf is the tee shot. Because most players are not just missing the fairway off the tee, they are barely keeping the ball on the planet. Other people might choose the putter, but for the average player, that putt they miss for a 10 is not what’s killing them.”

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A story in the latest Sports Illustrated on Nathaniel Crosby, the ‘81 U.S. Amateur champ, mentions that his famous father Bing “played in the [1950] British Amateur on the Old Course, losing in the first round to a St. Andrews carpenter as 20,000 looked on.” Naturally, the Sunday Column had to know more.

The 20,000 figure, it turns out, is an exaggeration. The Associated Press put the size of the crowd at “4,000, which broke all records for the first day of this tournament.” Bing-o was indeed eliminated in Round 1 - 3 and 2 by James K. Wilson - but he “played some respectable golf” in the wet and muddy conditions, the AP said. He even won the first three holes, but “a rash of sixes and fives [on the back nine] ran his medal score to some dozen shots over par by the time the match ended on the sodden 16th green.”

The famous crooner took his defeat with equanimity. “It’s a privilege to play here, and I’m really not disappointed,” he said. “The real reason I came was to see if I could get a new wig from the Labor Government.”

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FYI: In 1950, the Old Course played to a par of 73. It had 13 par-4 holes, three par-5s and two par-3s and measured 6,883 yards.

FYI, Part 2: Also competing in that British Amateur were Francis Ouimet, legendary winner of 1913 U.S. Open as a 20-year-old amateur, and Herbert Warren Wind, esteemed golf writer for the New Yorker.

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News item: According to the New York Daily News, Viagra has been used by a growing number of major leaguers - including Roger Clemens - as a performance enhancer.

Comment: Giving new meaning to the expression “high hard one.”

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I hope no one objects to the word “growing” in the previous item.

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Something just dawned on me. In Clemens’ case, the “E” in ERA might not stand for “earned.”

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Let’s face it, pitchers would apply Preparation H to their throwing arms if it would add 3 mph to their fastballs.

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Surprisingly, Viagra and Cialis have yet to be added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned drugs, and they’re expected to show up at this summer’s Olympics.

(Insert your own pole vault joke here.)

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Remember Gary Thorne, the Orioles’ announcer, casting aspersions on Curt Schilling’s Bloody Sock? Well, I can hardly wait for him to weigh in on Paul Pierce’s wheelchair ride during Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

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He’d probably have an interesting take on Tiger’s limp, too.

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So I’m reading about this woman who’s been barred by a judge from making contact with Michael Jordan, and I’m thinking: Hey, if she’s looking for somebody new to stalk, there’s always Bob Uecker.

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Did you see Michael Beasley measured 6-foot-7 at a pre-NBA draft camp - not 6-10, as he was listed at Kansas State? That’s like finding out at the NFL combine that Ed “Too Tall” Jones is really Ed “Sorta Tall” Jones.

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Came across an interesting passage in the New York Times’ review of “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives,” a book by Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow. “When statistics are used in a court of law,” George Johnson writes, “the effect can be … misleading. Mlodinow recalls the O.J. Simpson trial, in which the prosecution depicted the defendant as an inveterate wife abuser. One of Simpson’s lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, countered with statistics: In the United States, four million women are battered every year by their male partners, yet only one in 2,500 is ultimately murdered by her partner.

“The jury may have found that persuasive, but it’s a spurious argument. Nicole Brown Simpson was already dead. The relevant question was what percentage of all battered women who are murdered are killed by their abusers. The answer, Mlodinow notes, didn’t come up in the trial. It was 90 percent.”

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I’m still trying to figure out why Whistle Blower Protection doesn’t apply to Tim Donaghy.

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Jim McKay one week, Charlie Jones the next.

My entire childhood is passing before my eyes.

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The owner of Newcastle United in England’s Premier League is going to make his players buy their uniforms next season. It’s just the latest cost-cutting measure by billionaire Mike Ashley, who assumed a debt of about $135 million when he purchased the club.

Beyond that, though, “Mike wants to make a point,” a source told the Telegraph of London. “He’s fed up at seeing guys [making] 80K a week doing nothing and laying on the treatment table every week. Yes, he’s trying to [trim the budget], but he also wants to take some players down a peg or two. He has a real bee in his bonnet about this.”

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And finally …

Wonder if the NFL owners will try something like that should they have an uncapped year in 2010.

Imagine Peyton Manning surfing the Web, looking for a good price on his own jersey.

Picture Clinton Portis walking into a Redskins Store and being denied an employee discount.

(And raising such a fuss that one of his alter egos, Sheriff Gonna Getcha, had to be summoned to escort him to the exit.)