A GRIP ON SPORTS
How hard is it, really? You drop hints about what you want for Father's Day – if by hints you mean saying, “I want that” – for the last month or so and, on the big day, no one comes through. Oh, there are other, perfectly fine gifts, of course, but they are a bit like, I don't know, finishing second in the U.S. Open. It's better than 33rd, but it's not exactly what you wanted. Read on.
• I'm not really complaining, to be honest, because a nice set of wrenches is really cool, as is a hammock that should be here just in time for me to go out of town for two weeks. But sometimes you just want something so badly, when it is within your grasp and you fail to get your hands on it, it is disappointing. Don't take my word for it, though. Phil Mickelson can tell you. You could see it in his face yesterday, as his chip on 18 slid 15 feet past the cup, ensuring Justin Rose would win the U.S. Open and, for a sixth time, Phil would be the first loser. Golf is full of these type of stories. I remember Arnie wanting to win the PGA title so much he seemed to self-destruct every time he got close. And then there was Sam Snead, who won more PGA tour victories than anyone, including seven major titles. But, like Phil, Snead never won the U.S. Open, finishing second four times. Though I'm sure Snead never lost a U.S. Open on his birthday, since he was born in late May. And not after receiving national attention for flying home for his daughter's school event, since Snead only had a son. Both things happened to Mickelson yesterday and it doesn't seem fair. After he pitched in from nearly 100 yards on the 10th hole, it seemed the tournament was his to win. It was. But he couldn't do it. Watching his trek through the back nine, it was obvious he wanted it too much. Such overarching desire can lead to stupid decisions, missed fairways and off-by-this-much putts. And, with those things all coming into play, Phil wasted what might be his last great chance to hoist the U.S. Open trophy. It's a bit sad, really.
• My son mentioned this last night and he was right. The biggest problem with this U.S. Open at Merion was the 18th hole was just too tough. The final hole at a major championship should be a risk-reward one, where a winning birdie is possible, but so is a blow-the-tournament double bogey. Merion's 18th brought just one of those scores in play. Honestly, you want to know a guy a stroke back going into the final hole still has a chance, like he does at Augusta every year. But not one of the best golfers in the world birdied Merion's 18th on Saturday or Sunday. So when Phil stood on the tee Sunday afternoon, needing a birdie to force a Monday playoff, there was very little drama. It was pretty obvious he wasn't going to get it. No one else had in more than 48 hours. It rendered the final hole anticlimactic. And not a lot of fun.
• WSU: There's not much from Pullman, but UCLA kept the Pac-12's banner flying high in Omaha last night with a 2-1 win over top-ranked LSU. And Oregon State prepares for a win-or-go-home game with Louisville.
• Indians: Not the season's start the Indians wanted. A three-game series at home with Everett to begin the year ends with a three-game sweep by the Aquasox. Chris Derrick has the story and a blog post following Sunday's 4-3 defeat.
• Mariners: A series sweep is as hard for the Mariners to grasp this year as the U.S. Open trophy is for Phil any time. There it was – the sweep, I mean – waiting to be had, but even with Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound, the M's couldn't get it done Sunday against the A's. Instead, Oakland, behind Bartolo Colon's pitching (pictured) and a potent offense, pounded out a 10-2 victory. But that wasn't the worst part of Sunday. That came after the game. What a crappy way to end the day (sorry, couldn't resist).
• NHL: If you like NHL hockey, you may be able to watch it soon in Seattle. It's still a longshot but there is a chance.
• We'll be back on the radio later this week, but today we're hitting the golf course. And by hitting, I am referring to all the Montana-sized divots I take. I worked on my chipping game last night for about an hour, so we'll see if that helps. My guess: not much. Meanwhile, our poll question today has to do with Miami Heat and their chances to repeat as NBA champions. The Spurs will take a 3-2 series lead into Miami this week after Sunday's win. Until later …