- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wouldn’t it be great if Congress included sports in its Cash for Clunkers program?

The Tigers, I’ve gotta believe, would be happy to trade in Magglio Ordonez for $4,500.

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A physics professor and his team at the University of Tokyo have developed a robotic pitcher that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, might be able to do everything human hurlers do - only better. The mechanical moundsman doesn’t have a name yet, but since it throws only 40 mph, I’d suggest… well, how do you say “Jamie Moyer” in Japanese?

•••

Even in the early stages, the robopitcher is remarkably lifelike. For instance, it overheats if it has to work on less than four days’ rest, it’s reluctant to throw inside and it rarely lasts beyond the sixth inning.

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Some are already envisioning the day when robots can play actual games. Hey, why not? Robot batters have been around even longer than robot pitchers - and really now, how long can it take to create a robot fielder who can shag a fly as well as Lastings Milledge?

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The biggest challenge, from what I understand, will be trying to program these buckets of bolts to scratch and spit.

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I can hardly wait for the first robot to get caught using performance-enhancing electrodes.

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Some genius in the Indians organization scheduled a Victor Martinez Bobblehead Night for the day after the trading deadline - which, of course, turned out to be the day after Martinez got dealt to the Red Sox.

In a bizarre way, though, it made sense. Victor Martinez Bobblehead Night, you see, was also Turn Back the Clock Night.

•••

If the Indians had any sense of humor, they would have attached Justin Masterson heads to the Martinez bodies.

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Let’s face it, baseball is in a Bobblehead Night slump. Just eight days after Manny Ramirez celebrated his bobblehead night in L.A., the New York Times reported that he tested positive for performance enhancers in 2003.

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Maybe MLB should just stick with Bat Day.

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Speaking of PEDs, it’s hard not to notice the effect drug testing has had on the game. I was at Fenway Park recently and couldn’t believe the change in Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox mascot. He doesn’t look nearly as pumped up as he did a few years ago.

•••

With his trade to Minnesota, Orlando Cabrera has pulled ahead of Edgar Renteria in the all-important Most Teams Played for in the Last Six Seasons category. Cabrera has toiled for six clubs - the Expos, Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, A’s and now the Twins. Renteria, meanwhile, has drawn a paycheck from “only” five (Cardinals, Red Sox, Braves, Tigers, Giants).

If you ask me, they’re taking this “shortstop” business a little too literally.

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Congratulations to Tiger Woods for making it to the weekend in the Buick Open. Tiger, after all, had been in the wickedest slump of his career. He’d missed one cut in a row.

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Tiger is such fun to watch after he’s stubbed his toe. The last time he missed a cut (at the 2006 U.S. Open), he finished tied for second, first, first, first, first, first, first and first in his next eight PGA Tour events.

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Here’s something you don’t see every day - or every decade, for that matter. During his second nine Friday in the Buick, John Daly had a bogey, a double bogey, a triple bogey, a quadruple bogey and a quintuple bogey.

After which he probably needed a sextuple bypass.

•••

Long John was a nifty 17 over for his last 10 holes, needing 57 strokes to play them.

To put this in perspective, Woods, who shot a 63 that day, took his 57th swing on his 16th hole. (It was a putt, actually, that rolled in for a birdie.)

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Daly’s dilly-dallying added up to an 88 - which has always been my favorite golf score. Why? Because no matter how you look at it, right-side up or upside down, it’s still an 88.

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Tiger’s 63 tied him for the low round of the tournament so far. Which got me thinking: How often does a player who shoots or matches the low round in a tourney end up winning?

The answer: This year it’s happened in eight of the Tour’s 31 stroke-play events - about once a month.

Other 2009 tidbits my research turned up:

• Kenny Perry has shot or matched the low round in three tournaments - a 63 in the FBR Open, a 64 in the CA Championship and a 61 in the Travelers - and won two of them (the FBR and the Travelers).

• Brian Gay is the only player to shoot or match the low round on the last day - a 64 in the Heritage - and have it slingshot him to victory.

• Jesper Parnevik fired a 61 in the fourth round of the Hope, as good a score as anybody put up that week, but failed to qualify for the final 18 holes.

• Phil Mickelson shot the two best rounds in the Northern Trust, a 62 in the third round and a 63 in the first. Needless to say, he took home the trophy.

By the way, Woods tied for the low round earlier this year at Quail Hollow with a 65. He wound up fourth.

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Headline of the Week: Gal shoots 69 for lead at women’s British Open.

(They weren’t just talking about any gal, as it turns out, they were talking about Sandra Gal of Germany.)

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And finally…

All this sniping about swimsuits at the world championships reminds me of the occasional squabble over hulls in the America’s Cup.

In fact, that’s kinda what swimming has become, isn’t it - sailing with nose plugs?

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