Saturday, July 11, 2009

On second thought...

... as I watched Paula's third round on the TV today, and I suffered along with her horrible round. As if it wasn't enough that she was playing with the tournament leader Christie Kerr, she had to go and triple bogey the 10th and bogey the 11th on her way to an 8-over par round and a 6-over par tournament.
Although she is only 8 shots off the lead and tied for 17th place, it's unlikely that she'll stage a big comeback and win the Open.
And although I said that I'd go back if she had a chance to win, I realized that going back meant that I'd support her regardless, and the fact that she has a snowball's chance in Hell of winning the Open, I feel like I have to go back and walk with her again and support her in her unlikely quest to win the U.S. Open. That's just how it is.
She tees off at 11:50 on Sunday morning, and I'll be up at 7 and there on time, walking the course again, with the slim hope that I will be witnessing greatness and the knowledge that being a fan means that you are there to support your favorite regardless of the circumstances.
That's where I come in.

A day of relative rest.

The Morning Call, the newspaper that spoke to me on Thursday ran the article. My favorite part was where they said that "he admits he follows the Ladies Professional Golf Association more closely than the men's golf tour," as though I'd admitted that I like watching children's television more than 60 Minutes - How dare you! I don't know if they ran the photo of my shirt, since I haven't seen the actual newspaper.
Anyway, since Paula is in the last group today and one shot from the lead, I thought about driving back (or staying there) to see the third round, but I admit to being tired. I walked the course twice yesterday, once with Suzann Pettersen's group and again in the afternoon with Paula. Not only is it about 8,000 yards (more or less 5 miles), but it's through that high grass. The players walk on stuff that's like the carpeting in your living room. Lucky bastards.
I saw a lot of people wearing flip-flops. I don't get flip-flops. They're not quite shoes, they don't have a back on them and the only thing holding them on your feet is that strap between your Big Toe and the first little piggy, and seems like entirely inappropriate footwear for a long walk through high grass. They're for prancing around your back yard or the beach. I saw a lot of them on the course, which is why I never trust the opinion of the general public.
There are also a lot of people who wear their golfer's ball mark clip on their hat. For the uninformed, that little button is a ball marker that's attached by a magnet. It's what you see the players mark the ball with on the putting green.
Spectators walk the course with these things clipped to their hats - presumably to demonstrate that "I'm a golfer." That's a violation. You aren't playing and you won't need your ball marker. Leave it at home.
The newspaper said there were 18,000 people at the course on Friday. Paula played with Lorena Ochoa, and at times it seemed as though all 18,000 were following them. Today, with Christie Kerr and Paula in the last group, the numbers should be higher, so I'll give my admittedly tired feet and knees a rest and watch the 3-hours of coverage on NBC. If she has a chance to win, I might go back on Sunday, since I admit that I enjoy watching her play.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday at Saucon Valley CC

With the best of intentions, I woke up at 4:30am and was out the door by 5:30, but a navigational cock-up sent me east instead of west and what should have been a 90-minute trip to Bethlehem, PA took more like 120 minutes. So, I was a little late for Paula's 7:55 tee time. Thanks to my Garmin Nuvi, I was able to get help navigating through Allentown and around the Lehigh University campus where they had us park for the shuttle bus. I'd probably still be driving around looking for the golf course otherwise.
She started on the 10th hole, so I managed to pick her up at 14. She was playing with Lorena Ochoa, so the Mexican Army was out in force and the galleries were huge. Much larger than anything I'd seen at Bulle Rock. They figure to be as large tomorrow, when their tee time is 1:25pm. All that means is that I'll be there until at least 5:30 and it will be warmer. Such is life.
Saucon Valley is a nice place. Nestled in the Saucon Creek watershed, it's picturesque, but for spectators it leaves a little to be desired.
Almost all of the greens are elevated, so you have to find a prime spot to be able to see the hole location. Also, it isn't a tee-to-green-to-tee course. The tee's are all over the place, and often I had to hustle from one green to the next tee. At Bulle Rock, the next tee is always adjacent to the preceding green. Spoiled.
I'll go back on Friday, but I suspect I'd have a better view on TV. Today, I left after Paula was done and I made a quick stop at the souvenir tent. I was out of there by 2:00 and home in time for the Thursday night ride at the bike shop. I found that a brisk walk around 8,000 yards followed by a number 2 Value Meal (Quarter pounder, large fries, sweet tea and pie) makes for a nice pre-ride snack. Who'd a thunk? Suzann Pettersen has a 7:30am time on Friday and Morgan Pressel goes at 7:55, so there will be somebody to watch until Paula tees it up later.
In the meantime, I was interviewed by the local paper - again - when a reporter spotted me in my CREAMER 1 tee shirt. The same one that The Record felt compelled to add to the paper last month. This time, the reporter was doing a story on LPGA fans, and wanted to know the in's and out's of why we're fans. I gave her my two standard quotes: "Paula is my favorite professional athlete" and "She looks like a corporate secretary but has the heart of a competitor." She liked that one. I don't know how profound they are, but it's what I say.
She asked about how long I've followed the LPGA (more than 10 years, and especially since the tournaments are on The Golf Channel) and why I like Paula. I told her that when I started getting serious about following the LPGA I decided that I had to pick a favorite, rather than "wander aimlessly around the course." She liked that answer. I like everything about Paula, and I told her the story of the souvenir golf ball from last month. Generally, I'm uncomfortable talking about myself, and the reporter didn't seem to know much about golf, so I had to keep my answers generic. We'll see how much of it winds up in the newspaper.
I did get to see her mother Karen again, and I'm always surprised when she greets me by name. It's one of the cool things about going to the tournaments and something I couldn't explain properly to a reporter to condense into 100 words for the local paper.
As for Paula, she shot 1-over par, tied for twelfth. The leaders are in at 3-under, and Paula will have some work to do if she wants to play on Saturday.
And I'll have some work to do if I want to get to the course without making another wrong turn. Between the two of us, my money's on Paula.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vacation - day 4.

My stay-at-home vacation is coming to an end on Thursday. The first round of the Women's U.S. Open gets going and Paula Creamer is due to tee off at 7:55am, which means I'll have to be out the door and on the road by 6:00am. Quite the attitude adjustment.
The upside is that her tee time on Friday will be in the afternoon, since they flip-flop the morning and afternoon in the second round. I can sleep-in on Friday and decide whether I want to stay the night and go back on Saturday. Paula is fighting a thumb injury, so it's likely that (a) she'll not be in contention on Saturday (b) she'll withdraw or (c) she'll miss the cut. That's sad.
The other upside (can there be two upsides?) is that a 7:55 tee time means that she'll be finished her round by 12:30, and if I want, I can get home at a reasonable hour.
Strangely, it's only 10 more miles to the Saucon Valley course than it is to Bulle Rock, but the travel time is a half hour more - primarily because of the direction - which will take me through and around Philadelphia on a work day. I think the early start will get me through the battleground before the heavy commuter traffic starts. That's the plan anyway. The wild card is the endless construction work on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. If that's an issue, staying the night on Friday is a no-brainer.
That's an odd expression - no brainer. It's supposed to mean that the decision is easy, but to me it sounds like a decision that is made without a brain.
Meanwhile, if you're looking to piss people off, here's the latest gimmick. Start talking (or writing) about Michael Jackson in a disparaging way, and bring up the child molestation charges and what a strange character he was. It's bound to piss off a few people, but we all need a hobby.
The gang at Rolling Stone magazine is capping on the dead celebrity deal with a special edition of the magazine that's coming out on July 10. They're planning to "bring together his life, music and legend." Wowie-Zowie. Lucky me - I'm a subscriber and they'll send it to me whether I want it or not. Send me your address and I'll mail it to you unread.
The other thing I'm not so thrilled about is the constant attention being paid to Manny Ramirez and his return from his substance suspension. Television is treating him like he's coming off the disabled list as a hero, but he's more or less on probation after violating the league's substance abuse policy. Fox interrupted the Phillies game on Saturday to show his at-bats and tonight, ESPN is showing the Dodgers/Mets game with constant references to Manny and his return to baseball. I think it makes a suspension seem like a party, and the returning player is made to be a celebrity, which is probably what baseball wants.
It doesn't seem to matter what kind of person you are or what laws or rules you've violated, if the organization you work for wants you in front, you're there. Sometimes people don't care and other times they do. It's hard to figure.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A new perspective.

Having the day off gives me some perspective on what people who have every day off have to endure. Daytime television. Regis and Kelly. Regis seems like a guy caught in a party where he's the only guy and awkwardly tries to make conversation with people with whom he has little in common. Kelly is the ringleader, the Head Yenta as it were, and an audience full of them eats up every stupid comment. Regis sips his coffee and counts the checks.
Thank God for the Tour de France. Coincidentally, there's something on TV this week in the morning. It isn't for everybody, but it's the anti-Christ in a world of daytime blather television. There is so little to offer that Versus runs it continually during the day, and again in prime time. That should tell you everything you need to know about daytime television.
Michael Jackson is dead. Unbekownst to me, today was his memorial service. They held it at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, presumably because the L.A. Coliseum was booked. Tickets were going for as much as $3,000. I find some dichotomy to charging people to attend a memorial service. I don't know what the face value (Michael Jackson pun) was, but ten dollars would seem to be a bit high. Whatever, the Dead Celebrity treatment is in high gear, and probably just now picking up steam. Al Sharpton wants Jackson put on a postage stamp. Which face would they use? So many to choose from. Soon will come the CDs, DVDs, books and whatever the marketing arm of his grieving family can dream up to keep them all from having to work for a living.
The magnitude of the Dead Celebrity treatment varies with the level of celebrity. With Elvis and Michael Jackson it has and will see it's epoch. Today's Memorial Service was over the top. It was on at least 4 stations locally and at last check had gone on for about 3 hours. I don't think Michael would have had the stamina to sit through his own memorial.
Fans are fascinated I suppose, because they realize they've seen or heard the last of them, and grope for whatever image or sound they can get to preserve the legacy.
Locally, the Harry Kalas book that Wawa is selling makes me cringe a bit. I figure, if it isn't something that would have been done when the celebrity was alive, it might not be fitting to do after they're dead. It strikes me as someone profiting from death and taking advantage of people's emotions.
It's a little like Christmas.

Invite her back.

Paula Creamer threw out the first ball at last night's Phillies/Reds game in Philadelphia. The Reds could have used her later, as the Phils threw-up a 22-spot on them, winning 22-1 in the biggest blow-out since Nixon/McGovern.
“We got slaughtered as they used to say,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Um --- no, they still say that Dusty.
Among other things:
The 21-run margin of victory was the largest in franchise history, surpassing a 26-7 triumph over the New York Mets on June 11, 1985.
The 22 runs were the most scored by the Phillies since that 26-7 game.
The Phillies' 10-run first inning tied a team record. They also scored 10 in the first against the New York Giants in 1948, the Chicago Cubs in 1975, and the Montreal Expos in 2002.
Shane Victorino tied the team record for runs scored in a game with five. Seven players, including Jimmy Rollins and John Kruk, share that record.
You'd think that a game like that would have been kind of boring, but at one point, after the Phils put up 10 runs in the first, I started cheering for every run, and I wanted to see if they could score 25 or 30, but they slowed-down in the fifth inning, and actually went three scoreless innings before Jayson Werth hit a grand slam off infielder/pitcher Paul Janish to make it 22-1.
It wasn't as close as the score would indicate.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A blessed week off.

Today is the first day of another week of vacation. Today's highlight was a dental cleaning at 9:00am followed by a sprightly 23 mile bike ride at noon. Later, I'll be taking in the Phillies/Reds game tonight. The highlight of that affair will be that Paula Creamer is throwing out the first ball. At least I hope she is. She pulled out of the Owens Corning tournament last week with a thumb injury. I suppose, if she isn't going to play the Open she wouldn't bother to come to Philly to go to a baseball game.
The LPGA is playing their U.S. Open at Saucon Valley this week. I'm going to be there Thursday and Friday at least. Depending on who's on the leaderboard and what the traffic looks like, I'll probably wander out there one day over the weekend too. The tournament is a 90-minute drive along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which has a way of turning into a 190-minute drive.
Otherwise, it'll be a mundane week off work which is better than a good week at work, I assure you.