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National League's Manny Machado, of the San Diego Padres, reaches second on a fielding error after a base hit as American League's Bo Bichette, of the Toronto Blue Jays, waits for the throw during the sixth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Gabriel Christus)

All-Star, no thanks

To be honest, I watched more of the All-Star Game than I had planned.

I was going to skip it, a personal boycott because of jerk Rob Manfred's knee-jerk reaction to moving the game because of pressure about the Georgia measures on voting integrity.

But I watched a little. There were few options, to be honest, and the dudes talking on The Golf Channel need a quick kick in the hind parts.

I watched because of Shohei, mainly. And stayed to see Freddie Freeman swing.

But I found other things — there's almost always a "Law&Order" on somewhere, whether I've seen it or not (and it's almost certain I have) — for most of the night.

Here are a few takeaways, though, even in my limited time:

> Love the enthusiasm of young players like Fernando Tatis Jr., and Vlad Guerrero Jr. It will be sad when Tony LaRussa and whoever has taken over for Brian McCann in the "No Fun, Old School, Unwritten Rules" committee beats that joy out of them;

> Those uniforms were DEEEEEE-readful;

> Baseball needs to mic-up its players every day. Easily the best part of the night;

> Who OK'd using the shift in an All-Star game? Was that LaRussa's call?

We talk all the time about the state of sports and how important stars are. Well, this may be the most damning statement about baseball and one that should keep Manfred and the game's leadership up at night.

Baseball is struggling mightily right now. It's too slow. It's misguided. It's losing touch with anyone under the age of 40.

And all of that is true at a time when the game has more stars right now than at any point since the 1980s.

Think about that.

 

British Open

The British Open is my second favorite golf tournament. It's not really that close either.

(Yes, the Ryder Cup would be second favorite golf "event," but you know the difference.)

And I am especially looking forward to this weekend, for a few reasons.

One, I believe Harris English has a real shot, and I enjoy rooting for the Baylor boys when they play.

Two, as is the case every year, the viewing will be done early so the weekend is still pretty wide open to do things with the family.

Three, the golf lingo and accents are just great. Sublime if you will. From the "burn" to the "rota" to "brilliant" they speak golf better than we do.

And most importantly, judging by the pre-tournament bellyaching about Royal St. George, there will be some wild shots and scenarios playing out this week.

The unpredictability of RSG makes it the most-hated course in the British Open rotation. Heck, even Jack Nicklaus did not speak kindly of the most southern course among the 11 that the R&A rotate among.

And that makes me smile. I'm not a fan of the USGA tricking up a course to make it play like par is an FM radio station (92.3 for example) like they have in years past. That's predesigned gooney golf, in my view.
 

But I am a fan of a course that features unpredictable mounds and undulations. (Side question: I think Chas may have wondered this before, but it's a fair question — is there another context in which anyone uses undulations other than to describe a hilly golf course or a putting surface that looks like a water buffalo was buried under it?)


So for that reason — and for the chance to Bryson to blow an O-ring or Mickelson to melt down — I believe this will be fun.

 

Speaking of fun

So the British Open contest, who's in?

I've got about two dozen entries, and since this puppy tees off before the rest of us will be awake in the morning, I need all entries by the end of BID-ness today.

What's the British Open contest, you ask?

Well, pull up a chair.

Pick five golfers. Your four best scores count. You get points for the place of finish — you pick the winner that's one point, you get the guy who tied for fourth, that's four points, etc. — and the lowest score wins a gift card.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

And what does this cost, you wonder?

Nada. Zilch. Bagel.

As Schultz would say, "Nothing."

Which leads me to my picks.

I'm picking Harris English, because I will be rooting for Harris and that's that. I'll also be rooting for Rory and Jordan, so add them to the list.

I'm not picking Jon Rahm, even though he's the heavy, Heavy, HEAVY chalk in all the betting circles. In truth, I will not be betting on the red-hot Rahm, though, because the odds are that low. He's down to +700 at a lot of places.

Which brings me back to the unpredictability of this joint.

The last two winners at Royal St. George were long shots. Like super long, and not in terms of driving distance, either.

Darren Clarke won here in 2011 — at the age of 42, mind you — as a 200-to-1 long shot. The previous Open at RSG was won by Ben Curtis, who went off at 500-to-1. So there's that. And with that knowledge my final two are Alex Noren and Matt Fitzpatrick.

As Bluto asked, "Who's with me?" (And yes, Spy, "fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son." It can be fun at times though.)   

 

This and that

— The NBA Finals continue tonight, and it feels like another must-win for the Bucks, who are 4-point favorites. I would lean to the home team again, but don't be afraid of pushing chips on Giannis' player props. And yes, I think he scores close to 40 again tonight. The match-up is not ideal for the Suns, and the only way he stays south of 30 is if he goes 2-for-whatever from the foul line. Giannis is shooting almost 80 percent (30-for-38) in the paint, friends.

— Speaking of the All-Star Game, this is the first All-Star Game in quite some time that I did not watch with Wells Guthrie and a crew of folks as we kicked back Co-Colas outside the Gallery in Birmingham at SEC Media Days. There was that one year in Atlanta, but I was driving back every day that year and did not watch the ASG. SEC Media Days are next week and I'm sure Wells and Paschall will be aces on Press Row.

—  Speaking of the Baylor boys, the first of the current crew of Red Raiders to make a splash on the PGA Tour was Luke List. Here's TFP all-around ace David Paschall catching up with List, who had the 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour last weekend and finished in the top 5.

— And here's Paschall on UT giving baseball coach Tony Vitello a new contract after the Vols reached Omaha last month.

— Elsewhere in today's TFP, here's the story of Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson stepping down. Hate this for our kids as we approach the school year. The timing could not be much worse.  

— This is nothing new for tennis, per se, as reports of international match-fixing have surfaced before. But there are reports that several matches at Wimbledon are being investigated after allegations of fixing. Hmmmmmmm. This will become only more common as gambling becomes more and more part of the sports scene.

— Here's a 247sports.com story on why Bryan Harsin believes the Boise State blueprint will work at Auburn. I hope he's right, and I see no reason why the blueprint from the Blue Turf in Boise can't work against the blue bloods of the SEC. That said, Boise State recruits will not equate to success on The Plains, friends.

 

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

If you had the chance to play any golf course on the planet — other than Augusta National (which I have played twice, by the way) — which one would you play?

Which sports have the best all-star festivities?

Which long shot — 50-to-1 or higher — do you like this week at The British Open?

Which major U.S. sport will have the first "fixing" investigation?

As for today, July 14, let's review.

Conor McGregor is 33 today.

It's also Bastille Day.

"Easy Rider" was released on this day 52 years ago.

Gerald Ford would have been 108 today.

Not saying Ford was a terrible president — he certainly was not Andrew Johnson, for example — but I think Ford would make the Rushmore of most "forgettable" presidents.

Who else joins him, and where would this "forgettable" Rushmore be in the U.S.?

Go, and remember the contest and the mailbag.

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