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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani prepares to hit against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, July 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Weekend winners

College football fans. For a while the magazines on the stands at the grocery store were the flare that the summer hiatus was winding down. But then those things moved earlier and earlier, so they became more and more useless. Now it's SEC Media Days, which start today, which means Wells and David will be down their neck deep in hubbub. Know this, friends, you know the cliché "Like a duck takes to water" right? Well, when the ducks want to get across a similar message they quack, "Like Paschall to SEC Media Days" and they all smile and nod. Seriously, I speak Duck fluently. (Here comes some wise quack from Spy.) Also, you know the rules. Here's Paschall's SEC Media Days primer from Sunday.

Yeah, Collin Morikawa won The Open but Danny P was The Winner for our purposes, and did so without even picking the winner. Take that Collin. Danny P went Rahm, Spieth, Oosthuizen, Koepka and JT. That's a 2, two T3s and a 6 for a tidy score of 14. We had a few folks pick Morikawa, but one had the winner and two players who missed the weekend, and one had Morikawa and was forced to count Bryson DeCham-butt and J-Mac had Morikawa (1), Spieth (2) and Brooks (6) but had Schauffele and Reed after that. Congrats Danny P, send me your mailing address and lunch on the 5-at-10 (a $25 gift card) is headed your way. (Side note: We had a slew of contenders because of all the big names in the mix with late charges Sunday, like longtime player Dawg747, who also had Rahm, Brooks and Louis but picked Rory and Harris to fill out his card.) (Side note, part II: We assuredly will have a little more on this to follow.)

Giannis. Yeah, his last name is tough to spell. (It's Antetokounmpo, and that second 'n' is really easy to omit.) But his game is hard to fathom. If LeBron was Magic in Karl Malone's body, Giannis is Magic in Kareem's. And to make matter even better, with every interview he gives, Giannis comes across as genuine and charismatic and downright likable. He's moving up the 5-at-10 charts, friends. Yes, Luka's 1, but it's hard not to root for Giannis in these Finals. (And I picked and financially backed the Suns.) Game 6 is Tuesday, and the scene in Milwaukee is going to be completely off the charts.

Shohei. Yes, I am biased — sue me — but the numbers from the All-Star weekend scream that Shohei is a superstar regardless of the language barrier. The Home Run Derby was one of the most watched ever. Shohei accounted for 28 percent of the All-Star merch that was sold. Shohei's gawd-awful jersey from the All-Star game has already generated six-figure bids at auction.


 

Weekend losers

Baseball fans. Egad folks, did you get your feelings hurt because NBA fans had passed you on the classless checklist? Over a weekend, there was a New York Yankees fan banned for life for throwing a ball and hitting Boston outfielder Alex Verudgo over the weekend. (Feel free to insert your joke here that since he was the first person in a Yankees uniform to throw it where he was aiming he had had his ticket privileges revoked but signed a minor league deal.) Then there was the game stopped by gunfire — yes, gunfire — outside of Nationals Stadium over the weekend. (We feel pretty sure it was Trump's fault.) Then there was the latest line item in the long-standing history of "$1 beer is a bad idea" as an independent league game in jersey offered suds for a single and it turned into a players vs. fans fight. Opposite of good times.

Gregg Popovich. OK, Jalen Rose, the "Token" player Kevin Love left Team USA and he was replaced by JaVale McGee. Yes, that JaVale McGee. If Kevin Love, career stats of 18 mpg, 11 rig and a career shooting slash of 44.2/37.0/82.8 as a stretch 4 in an international game designed around stretch 4s, was a "Token," what in name of Lynn Anderson's classic, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" would you call JaVale McGee and his 7.8 pig, 5.2 rag and a 57.1/17.5/59.5 career line? As for Popovich being the designated loser of this Team USA basketball collection that is the least talented crew since MJ, Larry and Magic went to Spain, I do not think it is a coincidence that so many of these dudes are skipping this when Pop is the HC. His resume and pedigree are among the all-time greats. He's still as big a horse patootie as there is in the sports world.    

Braves bullpen. Does AJ Minter have nekkid pictures of Brian Snitker? Did Snitker have money on the over? Is he a Mets fan? How else can you explain Snitker consistently managing to the perfect old-school definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Snitker's insistence on using the flame-throwing lefty — and in terms of flame-throwing in this example it's a relief pitcher who comes into heated situations and throws more flames on the fire — over and over had to be quashed at the executive level. After Minter's July (seven games, 4.1 innings, 7 hits and three earned runs) and June (12 games, 9.1 innings, 13 hits and six earned) he thankfully was demoted. All told, the Braves bullpen's ERA is 4.64 and you want the key difference between this year and last — and yes the mounting injuries may make it all moot — but last year on the way to the NL East title, the Braves won 100% of game they led after six innings (27-0); this year as they flounder around .500, they are 40-10 in those games this year.

The NCAA. Yes, I blame them for a lot of the unraveling that is before us. And sweet buckets, the level of questions that should be posed at SEC Media Days this week should make the coaches long for days of talking about the depth in the secondary to the experience concerns at QB. The NIL stuff falls squarely on the ostrich shoulders of Mark Emmert after his head-in-the-sand approach of the last half decade. Now, as Michigan is going to play every player, for every jersey sale of their number opens an easy door to direct booster-to-player payments, the sneaky biggest issue moving forward comes from College Station, where a couple of online sites are paying Aggies football players as much as $10,000 to be the exclusive media site with which those players will speak. Dangerous slope, gang. Covered with grease and spikes, friends.

 

Fore

OK, I watched more of this version of The Open than almost any non-football event I can remember in a longtime.

Mainly because The Schedule worked out in my favor and that was that.

I was left with several takeaways, and I will share them.

> Golf betting is a weird and inexact endeavor. Maybe we can say that about a lot of gambling things, but the ebbs and flows of in-round golf betting are surreal and strange, and I was the AJ Minter of golf bets for most of this weekend. Until Sunday, with a couple of Grants on Rahm and Spieth to make an eagle on Sunday at +1000 and +1400, respectively. That covers a lot of "Birdie or bogey" misses or thinking that Louis was going to deliver on Sunday.

> Sunday, well, what do we do with all the sidelines and side stories from a tournament filled with them? OK, let's move through these rather quickly. Jordan Spieth is back and will win a major next year. Period. Louis Oosthuizen is about to have a lot of sleepless nights, and the next big moment he steps to the tee box, you have to believe the self-talking doubts are going to be louder than a whisper. I will never submit a contest entry for a major without Brooks Koepka's name on it again. Book that. Jon Rahm needs to spend a lot more time on the putting green. Dude stripes it, but he missed more 7-footers than a turnover-prone NBA point guard. You have to feel for the Paul Caseys, Lee Westwoods, Ian Poulters, Brandt Snedekers, Matt Kuchars, et al., who know deep down in places we don't talk about at parties that they will never win a major. Somewhere Sergio and Justin Rose need to be forever grateful for their one, you know?

> What do we do with The 24-year-old winner of The Open? Collin Morikawa was, dare I say it, Tiger Woods-esque in a lot of ways, especially on Sunday.

He was piping a 3-wood 310-plus and putting it wherever he wanted. He was relentless from every angle. His approaches were almost always hole high — one of the greatest and most under-appreciated aspects of Tiger's apex — and his not-that-long-ago balky putter was Woodsian in that every time you expected him to leak a little oil, he poured a 5-footer into the middle or drained a 14-footer for par.

He was aces, not in his brilliance but in the basics. He was sterling because he was super solid. And that was Tiger at the height of his powers.

Sure we remember Tiger annihilating Augusta National in 1997, but far more often was the Tiger that was robotic and and made the rocky and the rigorous look routine.

That was Morikawa on Sunday, and even on the last 30 or so holes over the weekend.

Is it too early to drop the Tiger reference? Sure it is. But where else do we go with this right now? Look at the numbers.

Collin became the first player to win two majors in his debut at those events. He has two major championships in eight major starts. Yeah, one major a year is a pretty good clip.

Dude's 24, and if we're being honest, after his record-setting college career and now with two majors, he's already a Hall of Famer. At 24. He's got as many majors as Dustin Johnson, Johnny Miller, Greg Norman or Bernhard Langer.

But here's the kicker on this one: His first major was a crowd-less PGA, this one was with the magnitude of the moment and all the pressure that 30,000-plus people bring.

And he did not blink. That bodes well for his career — and looks like a headache for his peers.        

 

This and that

— Here's Saturday's A2 column with a fish story and a fun obit observation.

—Did anyone see Space Jam 2.0 over the weekend? Looking for a review. Heard it was dreck-tastic, but it did excellent in terms of ticket sales.

— Side question: How did I miss the Emmy nominations last week? Hmmmmm. I expected more from a varsity letterman. Anywell, there were celebrations that "Yellowstone" had a nomination for set design or something. Well, I know it's not the highbrow stuff that most of these contests kowtow to like the "Downtown Abbeys" or the rest, but there were not five female acting performances in the last season better than what the Dutton daughter turned in. This is a hill on which I am prepared to fight.

— Five-star QB Malachi Nelson picked Oklahoma. No, I couldn't care less about a 2023 football player — regardless of stars — headed to the Big 12. No, my point is this: For my entire generation — those of us who grew up with Malachi being the leader of the "Children of the Corn" — there is simply no way that name would ever, Ever, EVER be considered. Malachi? Wow.

— Uh, this just in. In a neighborhood Wiffle Ball game, AJ Minter just allowed three hits and two runs on a big two-out double from that heavy-set Jones kid at the end of the block. Yeah, he's husky, but he can really swing it for a 9-year-old.

— That's back-to-back strong showings for Luke List on the PGA Tour. He was at the Barbasol Championship and he could be disappointed in his tie for fifth. (Tough to be too disappointed with chasing a check for $115,938 whenever it comes your way.) He was in the final group Sunday and shot a 71 to fade back. But as we said last week, the more times he contends, the more comfortable he will be in contention. List is comfortably in the top 100 in FedEx points (he's 89th) with a month left before the FedEx playoffs.

— Speaking of Baylor School golfers, Harris English overcame a rotten 75 Thursday at Royal St. George's with a 65 to make the cut and finished even par over the weekend to finish tied for 46th and make $33,679. He's fifth in the FedEx standings. Keith Mitchell did the opposite, opening with a 68 before missing the cut with a second-round 76. He's 114th in the points.      

 

Today's questions

The NCAA is a dead organization walking, right? Right? It's poised to release a new guidelines and rulebook on Aug. 1, and more than half of it is already in need of a rewrite because of the decisions of this summer.

Mark Emmert will be the forever punchline of failed athletic leadership.

As for Multiple Choice Monday, how many majors will Collin Morikawa win?

> One more;

> A few more;> He'll pass Mickelson, who has six;

> He'll get to double digits.

As for today, July 19, let's review.

Wow, Tom and Jerry turn 70 today. I think we've done cartoon duos before, but they would be contenders for sure.

First Wimbledon champ was crowned on this day in 1877. First Tour de France winner happened on this day in 1903. Bet he was on the 1903-version of HGH.

Benedict Cumberbatch is 45. Rushmore of actors with a name of an old-school European member of a royal family, because Benedict Cumberbatch certainly is a front runner.

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