"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 7/5/14
Once again, many thanks go out to tournament director Nathan Grube and his wonderful staff for the hospitality shown to yours truly during the recent Travelers Championship. Each and every year, these people simply "get it right"; the media accommodations are superb (Ben & Jerry's ice cream bars in the dining area are just an added bonus) and the kindness shown by the many volunteers is apparent yearly as soon as I arrive at the TPC in Cromwell. Additional thanks go out to tournament coordinator Josh Belowich--whose immense attention to detail did NOT go unnoticed by THIS grateful media member. It's just SO refreshing these days to see/experience an event where integrity, kindness, and professionalism are stressed SO highly..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1995 Chicago White Sox--who finished with a record of 68-76 under managers Gene Lamont and Terry Bevington--were led in victories by a starting pitcher with a total of just 12. Can you name this former right-handed hurler who spent a total of ten years in the big leagues? Answer to follow..........Sports anchor Mike McCann--after Alfonso Soriano was DFA'd by the Yankees: "'Sori' it had to end this way."..........Is it JUST me--or is there anyone else out there who thought that Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria would be a MUCH better player than he is at this juncture of his career--now having spent seven seasons at the MLB level?..........Do you remember back in 2005 when the San Diego Padres won the NL West with a not-so-impressive record of 82-80? Just HOW mediocre was this team? The squad had NO player with more than 18 home runs and NO pitcher with more than 13 wins. However, the mediocrity caught up with them FAST in the post-season as they were blown away by the Cardinals in three straight games in that year's NLDS..........ITEM: Oklahoma freshman defensive back Steve Parker is arrested after police found him near a pool of vomit next to a car in Norman well after midnight. He admitted to drinking vodka and was busted on a public intoxication charge. Ironically, his coach--Bob Stoops--was raving about his size and speed the week before during an interview on a local radio station. I dunno about you, folks, but he may possess size on the gridiron, but he surely appears to be a "lightweight" when it comes to certain other things..........Once Roger Federer reached the age of 30 (about 2 years ago), I was of the opinion that he'd never win a Grand Slam tournament again; his intense competition had just become too young, too quick, and too strong in a sport where age means SO MUCH. But what you saw him accomplish last weekend in the Wimbledon final vs. Novak Djokovic shows you what the HEART of a champion is capable of doing. Down 5-2 in the fourth set, Federer was still able to break serve TWICE in order to send the match to a fifth set vs. the #1 seed. Yes, it was almost as if Federer KNEW his chances of winning another Grand Slam were just about exhausted--yet he gave the English crowd something they will never forget. He may have lost to the talented player from Serbia, but actually BUILT upon an already-immense legacy. He remains the greatest player to ever walk on a tennis court, and all current tennis fans should be amazingly thankful that they were able to witness his unmatched greatness over the past decade or so. Bravo, Roger, and congratulations, Novak..........If anyone out there can quickly pronounce the last names of major league pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Cory Luebke, and Mark Rzepczynski WITHOUT HESITATING, then you should probably be teaching a college speech course right now and NOT reading this sports column..........Answer to trivia question: ALEX FERNANDEZ--who compiled a career mark of 107-87 while pitching for the White Sox and Marlins between 1990 and 2000..........Lazzari's "Tough Question of the Week": Of the following, which is LEAST likely to happen during this month of July?: 1) Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw giving up more than five runs in a start 2) A Colorado Rockies pitcher throwing a complete game shutout, or 3) Yours truly getting that long-awaited date with the lovely Christie Brinkley..........Finally, sad news from Virginia as word comes down about the recent death of former Navy defensive back Blake Carter--who passed away unexpectedly at the tender age of 27. Carter died at his home in Norfolk--where he was serving as a surface warfare officer aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. Blake was an impact player at the Naval Academy from 2006-2009--appearing in a total of 48 games. During his playing days, Navy went a combined 35-18 and appeared in four bowl games. Carter was known as an extremely kind, hard-working individual who could have played at a number of football "powers" after leaving high school. Instead, he decided to devote his life to the Navy at the urging of Terrence Anderson--a former All-American center for the Midshipmen. Condolences go out to his parents, Phyllis and Craig Carter, along with the rest of his loving family. May Lt. Blake Cameron Carter rest in peace.