Thursday, May 31, 2007
I'll let you figure out the symbolism of this one from Pantsu Pankuro:
This is a little dance from Inai Inai Ba that always cheers up my girls:
This hone hone waltz can help hone your game:
And don't forget to power up for your next tournament:
Special bonus clip: I've been waiting for this one to appear on teh youtubes for months!
Everybody has a bad day. Focus on your game and the rest will follow. But make sure you're ready to compete--physically, mentally, and emotionally--next time.
Wie almost golfed for the cycle (birdie, par, bogey, double, triple, quintuple) before deciding to withdraw without playing her final two holes, the 8th and 9th (and risking both re-injuring her wrists and an 88 or worse that would have banned her for a year from the LPGA so long as she remained a non-member). Sorenstam, meanwhile, birdied both those holes to fight her way back to even par (T33).
To be sure, many big names played terribly on Thursday. Brittany Lincicome, Natalie Gulbis, Catriona Matthew, Brittany Lang, Lorie Kane, and Carin Koch failed to break 80; Se Ri Pak, Ai Miyazato, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Prammanasudh, Laura Diaz, and Grace Park didn't break 75; and Mi Hyun Kim, Juli Inkster and Kyeong Bae barely avoided joining them. But you can bet Wie's woes and Sorenstam's struggles will be the lead story in the media. Too bad for the LPGA.
"Ready or not, here we come!": This is the message sent by Angela Park's 66, Sun Young Yoo's and Pat Hurst's 68s, and Jeong Jang's and Dorothy Delasin's 69s to Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, and Laura Davies. Don't expect us to back down or fade away just because you, too, broke 70 today.
"Ready or not, here we come!": With 32 people under par (including Karrie Webb, Julieta Granada, Seon Hwa Lee, Sarah Lee, Becky Morgan, and Nicole Castrale) and another 21 at par (including Shi Hyun Ahn, Cristie Kerr, Jee Young Lee, Meena Lee, Young Kim, Jimin Kang, Sherri Steinhauer, and Angela Stanford) there's far more to the tournament than the agony of defeat and the possibility of victory for the folks I've highlighted above. And with a cut line that could be anywhere from +2 to +6, on a treacherous course that has already sabotaged many players who at one point or another in their Thursday rounds got to -4, it's far too soon to tell who's already out of it and who's going to be in the mix on Sunday. But what a strange start to the Ginn Tribute!
I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed that my friend Moira Dunn is at +2 through 16; at least she'll have a decent chance to outplay a bunch of big names struggling to be on the right side of the cut line at the end of the day Friday.
But this post is actually about one part of the LPGA's ongoing attempts to get some attention to and financing for its players and tournaments. I know Commissioner Caroline Bivens has gotten some criticism from both the media and good LPGA bloggers like The Florida Masochist, but I think this particular approach deserves another look. I call it the LPGA's reality-tv marketing strategy not because of the actual reality-tv shows, which really are silly, but instead because of events like the ADT Championship, the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, and the Samsung World Championship, which are neither majors nor your traditional stroke-play, large-field events. And mostly because of the way the LPGA is dealing with Michelle Wie.
Let me explain.
I am not a fan of reality television and I don't watch it. But a lot of people do, at least by the diminished standards of success in network tv these days. Of course, as everyone has already noted, sports are your original reality tv. So it's only natural that a tour seeking a wider audience--and especially a younger, female audience--might experiment with bringing a reality-tv ethos into its tournaments as well as its marketing. When current players and future players on the LPGA are watching reality tv, it provides a common language of sorts for conceptualizing relationships on tour and between the tour and the larger sports/media world.
Let's talk about storylines first. Back in the late '90s, when Sorenstam, Webb, and Pak were the Big 3 of the LPGA, sports writers never got into this trio the way they got into the Woods and the Gang story--who among Duval, Els, Singh, Mickelson, Garcia, Goosen, etc., could catch him? Then in the early '00s, as it became apparent Tiger and Annika were way ahead of the competition, golf writers decided to focus on their record-breaking achievements and potential almost exclusively. In the past few years, as a large number of young players enjoyed great success, you could see the attempt to shape for the media profiles of challengers to Annika (rejuvenated veterans like Webb, Pak, Inkster, and Kim, young but experienced competitors like Ochoa, Kerr, Gulbis, and Miyazato, fast-rising young stars like Creamer, Pressel, and Lincicome; and, of course, Michelle Wie)--with considerably more success at placing stories about Americans than the many immensely talented South Koreans (Jeong Jang, Shi Hyun Ahn, Meena Lee, Hee Won Han, Seon Hwa Lee, Jee Young Lee, Angela Park, and so on).
So with the focus shifting from 3 to 1 to potentially many in the coming years in the race to be the best in women's golf, reality tv provides a commonly-understood framework for representing complex relationships and interactions among a large and diverse number of people. This is certainly more productive than, say, trying to spark a Morgan Pressel-Michelle Wie war of words, or a gun-slinging attitude on the part of Sorenstam and Ochoa: not interesting, not going to happen, and too dismissive as cattiness if limited to the individual level like these potential rivalries would be. The other alternative--appealing to nationalism (U.S. vs. South Korean vs...) or regionalism (Asian vs. European vs. North American players)--might work well if golf ever becomes an Olympic sport, but even then it would be too episodic to be an ongoing framework and too potentially divisive or open to backlashes against non-U.S. players if it were. In fact, the reality-tv framing of competition on the LPGA I've been noticing lately might even draw Michelle Wie (and future Michelle Wies!) into the tour. That is, as she remains mostly on the sidelines this year, she may get interested in the multiple storylines that reality-tv style framing allows--and want to join in the fun and be in the mix.
Certainly by already inviting Wie into the very limited field at the Samsung World Championship this October, the LPGA is sending a message that she'd better bring her A-game, because everyone is going to be gunning for her, for themselves and on behalf of the one person she displaced from the field who otherwise would have earned her way into it. And by opening to non-members the LPGA/ADT Championship (and its $1M prize to the winner in the final-day shootout after the field of 32 has been winnowed to 8), the LPGA has made it possible for Wie to play herself into it. Similarly, with entry into the HSBC World Match Play Championship based on the Rolex Rankings, the LPGA is giving Wie incentive to play in more women's events this summer (because you drop out of the Rolex Rankings if you've played less than 15 events in the past two years on the women's tours that are part of it). These three events are not majors, and only the Samsung is a traditional stroke-play event, but the LPGA is trying to get the players' and the media's attention with these different formats and the big prestige, big money, and big pressure that go with them.
Go read the interviews with Sorenstam, Ochoa, Wie, Pressel, Lincicome, Bivens, Suggs, and others to get a feel for what I'm talking about here--and how the players are negotiating it!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
When I checked my email one last time before shutting down the office computer, the featured story in Yahoo News read something like this:
[medium text]Japanese Dancer Wins Troubled Miss Universe 2007
[small text one-sentence teaser I've forgotten]
[small text link to]>>What Went Wrong
The entire commute back home, I was pleading with Lord Astaroth to keep Yahoo from editing this obviously inappropriate (and not b/c it lead with controversy over Trump's event, of course) set of headlines long enough for me to do a screen capture. But I must not be good at that sort of thing, because instead what I got was a call from the tsuma saying imoto just took a header off one of the chairs she's been climbing on for the past week or so.
By the time I got home she seemed fine, except for a bump on her head that reminded me of the protagonist of FLCL, which old school readers will recall both Bill and I have mentioned here before. No signs of concussion or anything. In fact, she was in a better mood than onechan, who decided right after I got home would be a great time to throw a tantrum.
So I never got that screen grab. Of course, Yahoo changed their story (probably at Trump's insistence). I have to ask the denizens of Blogoramaville who find their way here if anyone a) saw the original and b) grabbed it. I'll extend guest author privileges to anyone who doesn't have their own blog to mock both Yahoo's offensive original and sanitized current headlines.
If that isn't enough motivation, I hereby present you with the following FLCL/Weird Al Yankovich mashup, which is funny in its own right but downright brilliant if you know the former as well as you know the latter:
I'm going to resist the urge to rewrite this as a "fortunately, unfortunately" tale.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Now, at the end of the post I was looking for something more highfalutin' than "true confessions," invented or remembered or found it, and used it: "otaku autoethnography." I like it so much I'm playing around with it as part of a subtitle for this blog's "for fun" motto. So MH authors, and our legions of loyal readers, let me know what you think of the following revised motto:
for fun: youtubeocalypses, otaku autoethnographies, and other strange borders of Blogoramaville
Like it? Hate it? Can you improve on it? Or replace it? Or are subtitles just a bad idea?
[Update: Rob MacDougall has just written a post that transcends the otaku autoethnography genre. All former D&Ders and current massive multi-player role-playing-gamers must read it now.]
It makes a wicked sort of sense to walk Barry Bonds.
The manager managing his team in the field against Bonds feels keenly enough the press of the lore of best play against his judgement of what to do when Bonds takes his turn at the plate: the lore is firm on this; the manager must not give a free base to the first guy up in the late innings of a close game. Don't let the batter reach base; make an out of his appearance at the plate. But late in the game the solid sense of that tactical injunction evaporates before Bonds at bat.
Late in a tie game every out has its vested place on the gradient leading up to the all-important final out. The first out in the 7th inning of a tie game is important, the second out in the 8th inning is very important, the final out, whenever it comes, the tie finally broken, is all-important. The final out gives a chance for the game to end, which otherwise might go on and on inconclusively forever should the tie continue inning after extra inning after extra inning as provided for in the rules of baseball, giving no small importance to each out recorded in those late late innings of the extra inning game to any of the remaining crowd that's hung around to see if that game-ending out will ever come. Managers in the National League have uniformly decided that its simply not worth trying to get that out, wherever it lies along that late inning close game gradient, from Barry Bonds.
One manager had his pitcher, late in a close game, send Bonds down to first base with the bases loaded, an almost inconcievable breach of common practice in baseball, granting the Giants a free run in that instance rather than allowing the decisive swipe of the bat of Bonds. The managers of the National League, in unspoken concert, changed the way the game is played when confronted with Bonds, who took a base on balls 230-some times one year at their insistence, a rate of almost three bases on balls for every two games played for the season. As much as possible the managers would not let him hit, willing to unleash on the game whatever mischief another baserunner might do rather than see him swing at a pitch.
Bonds at the plate has been exceptional, so exceptional that an exception to the known practices of baseball has been concieved and enforced just for him, contrary to the all the settled lore of baseball unequivocally reminding a manager that letting the other team have a baserunner is bad business, especially late in a close game, leading off the 7th or late in the 8th inning, say, with the score tied, and the probability of successfully getting even the best hitter out, based on all the evidence, is in the neighborhood of 70%, fair enough chances even for the prudent manager when who knows what will happen with another runner scampering around out there on the bases? So with bases empty you take your chances with the out, mm? And, yes, on the other hand with bases full and no outs, intentionally allowing the runner at third to advance while completing the double play, hastening the end of the inning at the cost of one run is ruefully acknowledged to be what's left of best practice under those circumstances. Outs are that important.
Oh, and at times, under the press of circumstances, when the manager's best hope is the admittedly wan hope that only a force play might revive the flagging chances of getting the three outs desperately needed to end the inning, then yes, especially with one out already in hand, an intentional base on balls, putting the force play in order and opening up the possibility of a double play, is a plausible enough gambit. Intentionally walking a batter to load the bases, putting the force play in order at every base, is the extreme expression of this gambit. Bonds has been walked under these circumstances, as have so many other players when the galling necessity of the gambit presents itself to the manager of the other squad in the course of the game. But Bonds is walked when other players would never be.
That one time, Bonds was intentionally walked with the bases loaded, with the force play already in effect at every base, the Arizona manager conceding on that occasion not only the run waiting at third base but the ruin Bonds would make of any hoped for double play if left to bat. Confronted by Bonds, the manager of the Arizona club abandoned what wan hope is ever offered when the force play is in effect at every base, and instead kept the bases loaded, gave up a run, collected no outs at all, and considered his team the better off for it for not letting Bonds have at the ball.
Bonds has been sent to first with a runner at third and no outs, contrary to settled practice. He's been sent to first with a runners at first and second, moving the extra runner into scoring position. He's been sent to first leading off late innings of close games, as mentioned, and sent to first late in tie games when any runner is a risk.
The wary manager grants Bonds first base knowing the probability of getting him out if he's pitched to is better than even, in hailing distance of 70% in fact. That chance is always worth seriously considering when facing some other batter, but not Bonds. In looking at all the evidence, the manager is confronted with the devastating other 30% of the time when Bonds has beat the ball with his bat. And that is enough. The manager foreswears such devastation, elects to have his pitcher send Bonds down to first instead. No other player I can recall has ever been treated in quite this way, with a blanket injunction against any pitcher in any case giving Bonds anything at all to hit under any circumstances if at all possible. In his time, the Giants own Willie McCovey was justifiably feared for what he might do with his bat, and managers were so disinclined to let him hit that for years he held the season record in the National League for being given the most intentional bases on balls, drawing 45 in 1969. In 2003, Barry Bonds totaled 120 intentional bases on balls.
Some people might be confused about how fair this is, not letting Bonds hit the ball, when that's what he's for, as if the still-living form of Bob Dylan were rushed out on stage and then not allowed to sing (producing for other reasons its own contrasting reactions of relief and chagrin on the part of those looking in, no doubt). But what's fair is a term of art in baseball, and what's fair never precludes the winning strategy, which over time has come to include in the rubric of the game "Don't Let Bonds Bat. Just Don't" as a unique, universally adopted codicil to otherwise settled matters of standard practice in baseball.
Sometimes, the manager concedes, Bonds must be pitched to. I've seen him bat a few hundred times over the years at games I've attended, and, yes, just as all those managers of opposing teams suspect for all the reasons, Bonds for years has been peerless at bat, just devastatingly acute with the delivered swipe of his stick to the detriment of the pitched ball when finally honestly offered. Once or twice during a game a pitcher might serve up such a ball among the vast majority of otherwise directed pitches tending to make Bonds have his base on balls instead, and suffer as a result all the negative consequences of trying to throw both a strike and a pitch he couldn't hit with the selfsame ball, leading in time directly to the other idea of not pitching to him at all, and as a fallback, should pitching to him prove unavoidable, to stack the side of the field where he'll most likely pound the thing with as many extra players as might be spared to chase the ball down. The standard array of defensive positions out there in the field was discarded in favor of one designed just for him, in case it came down to it and he did have a hack at the ball.
He probably wouldn't have hit 100 home runs that one year he was walked 234 times, but, who knows? What's true is that managers who sent their teams against him that year managed those games as if he might.
For all of that, Barry Bonds has a curious celebrity. I've never met the fellow, and I have no evidence to contribute to the ongoing investigation into his alleged drug use that's getting all the press these days.
But because he is celebrated, San Francisco's own Dark Star, I'm aware of wide reports that he's a convincingly unlikeable sort with a forbidden history of performance enhancement ready to be pinned on him any day now if the feds get their way. Dramatic stuff, that, over and above the matchless baseball I've seen him play.
On the issue of likeability, it's hard for me to judge who'd be the most irritating to the other if Bonds and I were ever to meet. He may have all his great press clippings of rude behaviour going for him, and I in turn only an enraging practiced affability with which to stoke the fires of his irritation in return. I'm not denying Bonds would be the favorite, I'm just saying I own a store of inapt good cheer that's brought many up short over the years. If such a contest is not to be, well, I have small appetite for meeting famously irritating people anyway, or for being all that affable for prolonged periods, either. So I'll leave that question aside.
Barry Bonds made chumps of all the many players using performance enhancing drugs in baseball, all of them who went after that extra edge of muscle mass and reflex speed promised by the potions cooked up here and there in the industry serving America's fitness trade, and none of them going about it so secretly that the manager of a club would have no hint of why the fellow in the dugout with the shoulder muscles reaching all the way up to his ears has that peculiar vein popping away on his forhead. It was not so much a secret that was being kept about the use of the nominally prohibited drugs, as knowledge reserved for the clubhouse, set inside its white chalk circle, as it were, knowledge like who has jock itch or what's that phone number for the hookers which is never honestly addressed outside that space.
Many players, enhanced, managed to reach the major leagues and stay some length of time before they broke. And they did break, because the fitness served up by the concoctions they took was a brittle sort for the purposes of baseball, lending a particular vulnerability to the knee and shoulder and elbow of the otherwise enhanced player. They broke, and were replaced by others seeking in that same way for an edge to get into the major leagues and stay awhile.
I don't believe for a minute that Bonds with his storied self-regard was anything but offended when others, many of them enhanced, were spoken of as the best in baseball after a long while during which only his name was ever seriously mentioned when talk turned that way, agreeing with his own fully considered opinion on the matter I surmise, based on what he had done at bat, on the bases and in the field in his first decade in the major leagues. He stole hundreds and hundred of bases in that time, and he was so matchlessly fast to the ball in the outfield that again and again what might have seemed a sure double from the other team's batter was held to a single by his remarkable fielding. That's what those who gave him those Golden Gloves noticed when they chose him as best left fielder year after year: time after time the batter rounding first base witnessed ahead of him Bonds already throwing the adequate throw back into second, holding the hitter to a single instead of the two bases that had seem so sure off the crack of the bat. Bonds was peerless at that, at denying the extra base to the batter. He had his troubles when a better than adequate throw was required, but commonly he was at the ball and prepared to throw it back so quickly in the event only an adequate throw was needed. Bonds agreed, everyone agreed, he was the best. And even with all of that, he was named MVP for his hitting, not his fielding. Because, Bonds agreed, everyone agreed, he was a peerless hitter besides.
What stuck in the mighty craw of Bonds most sorely, I'm thinking, was all this talk of McGuire and Sosa saving baseball from the doldrums it had difted into follwing the baseball strike in 1994. Oooh, look, the darlings of baseball, and all those home runs! Those two guys were juiced. They were partaking of the conconctions. They had drugs in their systems, for enhancement! The celebration of their corrupted chase after the single season record of
Bonds wasn't forced to demonstrate the truth that on any level playing field, as Bonds agreed, as everyone agreed, he was baseball's best. But he did do that.
Bonds chumped them all. They all enhanced themselves and performed marvels and then broke, but even performing at the utter possible limit of their enhancement he showed they were no match at all, no one was a match at all, for what he, Bonds, already best, could do enhanced.
In this she's following in onechan's footsteps. Her first non-family word was "wan wan," the name of the dog character in the kids show Inai Inai Ba that she loved to watch on tapes sent by her aunt in Okinawa. I'll look up whether it was her first word, period, and when it came, but it's cool to see imoto run to the tv and camp out to watch the same show right here in Fukuoka as her onechan used to in the States when she was imoto's age.
Don't worry, imoto's still a rebel. She'll sit down when you say "suari nasai!" in a serious enough tone of voice, but then she'll get right back up again. We're never gonna keep her down, as that song goes. I'm sure her next word will be "no!" And that it'll become her favorite!
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Kyeong Bae is halfway there on that super-low round I predicted for her. Her 31 on the front puts her at -12, 6 shots off the lead.
Now if only my call for a run by Ai Miyazato on the leaders comes true like it did a few weeks ago. She's only 2-under through 6, tied with Bae and a million other people.
[Update 1 (5/28/07, 12:03 am): Now Jeong Jang (-5 through 12) is responding to my Mostly Harmless Challenge from yesterday. But Creamer and Young Kim have gotten to -19, so it's looking moot.]
[Update 2 (12:15 am): Damn! Paula Creamer just doubled 6. Now Young Kim has a two-shot lead on her and Mi Hyun Kim. Wait, I called this thing for Young Kim. I mean, yeah! Oh, and Natalie Gulbis (32 on the front, -14 on tournament, 1 behind Bader) is making the race for fourth interesting, too. And props to Jamie Hullett and Diana D'Alessio for getting into that mix, as well. Too bad Jang just bogeyed 13.]
[Update 3 (12:30 am): Wow, Young knows how to capitalize on others' mistakes. Her birdie on 7 gets her to -20 and a three shot lead on Mi Hyun and Paula. Meanwhile, Kyeong bogeyed 13 to fall back to -11 with Jeong; Laura Davies, Jamie Hullett, and Seon Hwa Lee have joined the big group at -13; and Ai-chan is still not making a move.]
[Update 4 (12:36 am): Wow, Ai-chan birdied the par-3 11th and has a couple of par 5s sandwiched around the tough 13th. Go, Ai-chan, go!]
[Update 5 (12:37 am): Yikes, another 2-shot swing at the top--Paula birdies while Young bogeys the 8th.]
[Update 6 (1:03 am): Yeesh, Na On Min's triple bogey-bogey stretch on 9 and 10 just dropped her into Shi Hyun Ahn, Meena Lee, and Angela Park's neighborhood. Things can change quickly, so Natalie Gulbis (-15 with 6 to play) should go for broke, shoot for pins, and maybe, just maybe, post a good enough number that it gets her that win she was talking about last week (if she gets some help from the leaders and the weather). Or Diana D'Alessio (one of 3 people at -6 on the day) will catch her.]
[Update 7 (1:06 am): In the time it took to post the last update, Mi Hyun Kim birdied 10, Beth Bader birdied 9, and Young Kim bogeyed 9. Result: Mi Kyun, Paula, and Young tied at -18 and Beth 1 behind. If the Gang of Four don't watch out, they'll let 20 people into this thing!]
[Update 8 (1:15 am): Who would have thought Diana D'Alessio would be having the round of the day today? She's now at -7 in her round, -15 for the tournament, tied with Natalie Gulbis, and 3 shots off the lead. Wow! And Seon Hwa Lee was one of the few leaders to birdie the par-5 12th to get to -14. What's up with the back's par 5s today?]
[Update 9 (1:36 am): OK, it's Mi Hyun Kim's turn to approach the -20 barrier and take the lead. She's now -19, safely ahead of leader-in-the-clubhouse Jeong Jang, who just posted a 67 to get to -12 (T12) to finish one shot ahead of low-round-of-the-day-in-the-clubhouse-holder Mikaela Parmlid. Ai-chan failed to birdie either par 5 on the back--her only consolation is that she's nowhere near alone in doing that.]
[Update 10 (1:54 am): Writing something good about Star Wars is hard. But who cares when Paula Creamer has joined Mi Hyun Kim at -19 and Beth Bader has joined Young Kim at -18? And Pat Hurst finally got off her 9-hole par train with a birdie on 18 to shoot a 65 and finish at -14? She is joined by D'Alessio and Gulbis, who fell back, and Seon Hwa Lee and In-Kyung Kim, who moved up. Other notes: Kyeong Bae proved me wrong in the end by following up her 31 with a 37; Laura Davies and Jamie Hullett have dropped out of the top 10; and Ai-chan is still only 1 shot out of 5th place.]
[Update 11 (1:59 am): First bogey in 36 holes for Mi Hyun Kim came at the worst possible time--on the par-5 14th. Still, she knows how to bounce back from adversity and is only one behind Paula Creamer. Still, ouch.]
[Update 12 (2:00 am): Hey, but on cue, Ai-chan joined the huge group at -14 with 2 holes to play! Yeah!]
[Update 13 (2:01 am): But D'Alessio birdied 18 to tie Hurst for low round of the day and finish alone so far in 5th at -15.]
[Update 14 (2:12 am): I do believe that In-Kyung Kim got her Sunday jitters out of the way over her last 6 holes on Saturday, just like I wished for her yesterday. She's now at -3 on her round today, good enough for -15 and T5 with Pat Hurst. Perhaps this is a sign that the Rookie of the Year race, which Angela Park has been dominating, is heating up in time for summer. And Hound Dog's fave, Grace Park, is now alone at -13 with 2 holes to play....]
[Update 15 (2:14 am): Hey there, Young Kim's now up 1 on the rest of the Gang of Four at -19. Can you spell photo finish? How about playoff?]
[Update 16 (2:15 am): And how about that Ai-chan getting to -15 with a birdie on 17?]
[Update 17 (2:31 am): Too bad--Ai-chan couldn't birdie out, so she left the door open for Seon Hwa to pass her with a birdie on 18 and grab 5th alone (and maybe better, if Mi Hyun keeps stumbling down the stretch).]
[Update 18 (2:44 am): Well, Lee couldn't do it--she's T5 so far with Miyazato and D'Alessio--with only In-Kyung Kim having a chance to pass them by making like D'Alessio.]
[Update 19 (2:56 am): By the way, you think this tournament suggests that this year's LPGA has the most talented group of pros in its history? It's true, no one's touching Inkster's -24 in 2003, and even more people got to double digits under par then than now, but this field is far weaker (going by the money list, that is) than 2003's and no other year comes close. We'll have to wait till the end of the year to answer the question, but I thought I'd raise it now while waiting for the scoreboard to update.]
[Update 20 (3:03 am): Young Kim's and In-Kyung Kim's birdies just now--giving Young a 2-shot lead on Creamer and Bader with only the 18th left to play and In-Kyung sole possession of 5th, one behind Mi Hyun Kim--make me wonder for the second day in a row if "A Good Day to Be a Kim" would be a better title for this post. But then I'd piss off Christina (tied for last) Kim. If I really have trouble writing that Star Wars WAAGNFNP post, I'll calculate the average finish among the Kims, Lees, and Parks in the field, like I
[Update the last (3:21 am): Young Kim wins! Her -20 ties for second-best total in the history of the Corning Classic. Creamer and Bader do the Kims a favor by bogeying and double bogeying 18, respectively. Surname race over--Kims win (Kim: 28.4; Park: 34; Lee: 34.25). Rookie race over--Kim wins. Super Soph race over--Miyazato and Lee tie. "Not a fluke" race over--Sharp edges out Sorenstam, though neither really win. Young Kim the only one left in the sub-69 club. 16 players end up following the Mostly Harmless Rules for Corning Classic Success. Back to Star Wars.]
Saturday, May 26, 2007
To be sure, there are a couple of rookies--In-Kyung Kim (-5 through 17, -13 for the tournament) and Na On Min (-11, T6)--who could possibly overcome "never-been-there" Sunday jitters and get into contention. And there are a couple of Super Sophs--Seon Hwa Lee and Ai Miyazato--at -10 who know how to go very low and are looking to break out this season. Not to mention Natalie Gulbis (-11 through 17) and Becky Morgan (-10 through 16), who have a chance to stay or pull ahead of always-dangerous-on-Sunday Grace Park and Meg Mallon.
But I'm sticking by my prediction one of the Gang of Four wins this thing.
[Update 1 (5:09 am): Nice birdie
[Update 2 (5:16 am): Wow, nice finish, Paula! Way to get to -16.]
[Update 3 (5:28 am): Good finish for Morgan to salvage a disappointing round and bad finish for Gulbis who had a chance to get to -12 but finished at -10 instead. Looking further down the leaderboard, it's interesting to see that now only 21 players have met the Mostly Harmless minimum requirements for being in the mix (down from 43 after two rounds) and that only 13 have actually adhered to the Mostly Harmless Corning Classic Rules (although another 19 can do so by breaking 69 tomorrow and another 7 can do so by breaking 65).]
[Update 4 (5:50 am): Oops, then there were three in the sub-69 club. So it's Creamer, Bader, and Young Kim at -16, Mi Hyun Kim at -15, and In-Kyung Kim at -12 in the top 5. Maybe I should change this post's title to "A Good Day to Be a Kim"! Speaking of which, Seon-Hwa Lee and Grace Park will have to represent their namesakes alone at the top tomorrow. It'll be interesting to see if which Korean surname has the best average finish this week (Christina Kim is dragging down her namesakes, so it's actually close). But more interesting to see if big names like Ahn (-5, T38) and Jang (-7, T22) can play their way into the top 10, or at least beat Bae (-7, T22), Choi (-9, T13), Chung (-7, T22), Kang (-6, T29), and Yim (-6, T29). And don't forget the Sorenstam-Sharp "not a fluke" race.]
[Update 5 (6:30 am): It's too bad the weather is going to be a big factor tomorrow--a good chance of rain all night and decent odds of multiple thunderstorms moving through the Southern Tier the next day (especially in the afternoon) is the Weather Channel's forecast. So for all intents and purposes the players will be playing a different course tomorrow even than the past two days, which saw some rain, not least because the wind will be up. Whoever adjusts best wins. If the thunderstorms hold off, the wind is not blowing that hard snd is not that changeable, and the rain is intermittent or light, we could see some really low scores (although I've always found really wet greens to be more difficult to make putts on). Or we could see a Monday finish. Or they might get lucky and not get rained on at all. Hey, it's the joy of spring in NY! Anyway, here's the link to the Sunday pairings. They're going for an early start with threesomes off both sides to maximize their chances of finishing the round on Sunday. Someone in the last 5 groups off the front will win--I wonder who! With Mi Hyun dealing with a nagging knee injury that forced her to withdraw after the third round last week, Creamer has to be the favorite. But I'm picking Young Kim in the upset--and I think Ai-chan will make a run at them. We'll see....]
Friday, May 25, 2007
Well, a long time ago, in a galaxy far away, back when Mostly Harmless was almost as naive and annoying as a young Luke Skywalker, I made a little confession. Then I followed it up with a big bleg that I really must ask you to go now and read, because it resulted in the talk that I gave a progress report on here and and supplied a link to the .pdf version of here--and which this post is a p.s. to. So that's four posts and my first paid public lecture devoted to Star Wars--not a lot in my book, but who am I to argue with the WAAGNFNP's MOJ?
OK, I admit I'm not counting my other Star Wars posts at Mostly Harmless: a few links here, a brief comparison to the amazing anime series Legend of the Galactic Heroes there, a hidden allusion in our Blogocalypse Carnival over there, and a plug for Rob MacDougall's blog-a-thon entry right here. They just don't relate that closely to the main point of this post, which is to raise a few questions about the relation between these two Return of the Jedi posters (the first actual, the second seriously parodic).
Here's one thing I love about the second poster. By casting President Bush as Lando Calrissian, its designer strongly implies that the role of Darth Vader is being played by Vice President Cheney. As I said in my talk,
It's Cheney, after all, who cultivates a Vader-esque image, who relies on technological implants for his survival, and who famously told Tim Russert five days after 9/11 on Meet the Press that "We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will." Whereas Bush was downright Lando Calrissian-like in his campaign, pledging to be a "uniter, not a divider" and to work as closely with Democrats as President of the United States as he did as Governor of Texas. (Plus he has a real past that many would suggest is as wild as Calrissian's fictional one.) When we take into account, too, that Calrissian was intimidated by Vader into betraying Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back and then helped save him and destroy the Death Star in Return of the Jedi, [the] casting decision may even allude to the hope some still hold onto that if only Bush would distance himself from his Vice President and his closest political advisor, Karl Rove, he could yet salvage his Presidency. (The 2006 satirical movie American Dreamz is another example of this fantasy).
What I didn't go on to say then--besides the impossibility of imagining the young Dick Cheney as a young Anakin Skywalker--is how smart it was to leave today's analogue to Emperor Palpatine a mystery. I think it was Claude Lefort who said that in a democracy, unlike a monarchy, the seat of power is empty; rather than fill it (with, say, Rove), it's better to ponder, with Lefort and following Tocqueville, the nature of the despotism particular to a democracy in light of the relation between the Star Wars series and prequel:
The first trilogy tells the tragic story of a republic's descent into empire and a hero's fall into villainy, while the second tells the epic story of that empire's defeat by a rebellion's resistance and that villain's redemption through his children's heroics.
What better illustration of Samuel Delany's point that science fiction is a significant distortion of the present than Star Wars? It's not that I think the Democratic presidential candidates will actually act like Luke, Leia, and Han--the sarcastic casting of Al Gore as Jabba the Hutt says more about the real odds that the Democratic Party will lead a rebellion against Imperial America than anything else in the poster (note: the poster's designer says he made some casting decisions based on design principles alone; that's his story and he's as free to stick with it as I am to run with it). In my talk, I pointed out many problems with the Sith-Republicans/Jedi-Democrats analogy, emphasizing that Democrats have been/can be tempted as easily by the "power of the dark side" as Republicans. And I argued that it's unclear whether the U.S. today has become or will remain an empire:
In response to claims that the Bush administration's policies, doctrines, and strategies are entirely unprecedented, then, I have argued that they ought to be seen as "in the American grain." My point in doing so is not to condemn the United States as always already imperialist, but to suggest that the imperialist tradition in American history and culture, although it has deep roots, is not the only one and does not have to remain the dominant one. 9/11 has sharpened the deep and ongoing contestation among the various American traditions and raised its stakes. The appeal of American-style imperialism has only grown since 2001. But so have critiques of it, from several political traditions within and outside the U.S. What the result of these debates and maneuverings will be is anyone's guess.
Three months and a day after my talk, I still have more questions than answers. The ones I'm most interested in hearing your answers to are:
- What are your criteria for deciding when American democracy has become despotic and imperialist?
- Are we there yet? And if so, when did we start?
- Most important, at what point do you decide to rebel? And what forms does that rebellion take?
[Update 5/30/07: All right, who died and got May 25th declared Towel Day?]
For every round between 69 and 72, you'll need a round between 65 and 68 to balance it. For every round between 73 and 76, you'll need one between 61 and 64 to balance it (or two in the next higher category). Better to just avoid those higher ranges entirely.
Here are some players who understood whereof this mysterious yet no doubt humble medium of the golf gods spake:
Young Kim (-12, 1st place so far): With three straight top 20s in her last three events and $133K earned thus far this year (good enough for 30th on the money list), Kim is looking to join the ranks of the LPGA's best--she's always made a lot of cuts and a decent number of top 10s each year, but her top finish is only third. Playing bogey-free golf while making a bunch of birdies sounds like the right formula for a career-best finish--great 64 today! It's gotta feel wonderful to outplay your pairing--fellow honor-roller Paula Creamer (-10, 2nd place) and the always-dangerous Jeong Jang (-6, T15)--during the first two rounds, but what's important is what's to come....
Mi Hyun Kim (-9, 4th place): the favorite for the week (in the Mostly Harmless book, at least) shows why, setting the pace for the field (she finished a long time before the Kim-Creamer-Jang group did) with her second-straight sub-69 round, a 67.
Alena Sharp (-7, T7): from in danger of missing the cut to in contention, thanks to a 63 that offset her opening 74. (She's the anti-Charlotta Sorenstam, who failed to capitalize on her fantastic first round but went so low yesterday she could afford to today.)
Na On Min (-7, T7): a nice 67 today offset her Thursday 70, making her the top rookie in the clubhouse. Her closing 32 on the front was the low 9 of her short career, which bodes well for the weekend.
Kyeong Bae and Nina Reis (-6, T15): these Super Sophs in Waiting followed up lackluster 71s with solid 67s today, keeping themselves in the mix. Just wait till Bae puts together two good 9s in a row. The Mostly Harmless Crystal Ball is telling me she will contend this week--apparently she has a real low round in her for the weekend.
13 golfers in the afternoon pairings have a chance to join the Kims and Creamer in the sub-69 club (the only ones from the morning to get in). Beth Bader is the leader among them; her 33 on the back gets her to -10 already for the tournament (T2), with the easier front ahead of her. Among the rest, Pat Hurst, Laura Davies, Angela Park, Natalie Gulbis, and Sung Ah Yim have the hottest starts in the afternoon. The cut line looks like it could get as low as -2 or as high as E--Jimin Kang is the biggest name below it right now, although she does still have the front ahead of her. Moira is going to need to go low on the tougher back to make the cut--unlikely, at best, I'm sorry to say. On the bright side, Ai-chan is -6 through 28 and Seon Hwa Lee is tied with her after 26 (T15)--always fun to see them dueling in a tournament for the Super Soph lead. Plus In-Kyung Kim is -7 through 25, keeping pace with Na On Min and just ahead of a charging Angela Park, so the rookie race is heating up. Lots to see--I'll be back later!
[Update 1 (8:20 am): Additions to the Honor Roll: Beth Bader (66, -13, 1st place) and Jean Bartholomew (68, -8, T6), who bring the sub-69 club membership to 5 (from 23 yesterday). Becky Morgan (66, -9, T4), Natalie Gulbis (67, -8, T6), and Pat Hurst (66, -3, T44), who have a chance over the next two days to make up for earlier weekend collapses this year. Wendy Doolan (68, -7, T11) leads Lindsey Wright, Kate Golden, Maria Hjorth, and Vicki Goetze-Ackerman (all 68, -6, T18) who have joined the 43 players meeting my formula's minimum requirements for being in the mix for the weekend (although they all will need to go low twice to actually be in contention on the final 9). There are 74 golfers at -1 or better; with a few groups still out on the course and play suspended, it's unclear whether the cut line will stay there.]
Thursday, May 24, 2007
With 72 people under par thus far (many afternoon groups are still on the course), it's likely the cut line tomorrow will be at or under par. So there's pressure even on the people who shot 71s and 70s today to go lower tomorrow and certainly not to move backwards. Shooting a 69 doesn't get you in the top 20, nor does a 68 get you a top 10. It doesn't even look like a 67 will get you a top 5! What with Beth Bader firing a 65 (and Charlotta Sorenstam threatening to surpass it), Shi Hyun Ahn a 66 (and Paula Creamer and Diana D'Alessio threatening to surpass it), and 9 others at -3 or better with many birdie holes ahead of them, here's what the people who want to be in contention will have to do.
For every round between 69 and 72, you'll need a round between 65 and 68 to balance it. For every round between 73 and 76, you'll need one between 61 and 64 to balance it (or two in the next higher category). Better to just avoid those higher ranges entirely. It'll be interesting to see how many of the 23 people with a chance to do that for the rest of the tournament actually do it. Even if the weather is bad Sunday, the winning score is likely to be between 14 and 24 under. Better to err on the low side.
[Update 1 (12:12 pm): Congrats to Charlotta Sorenstam on her 64! Here are the first-round interviews and second-round starting times. More after lunch!]
[Update 2 (1:02 pm): It'll be interesting to see if the Creamer rises this week (she's the leader among those in the top 20 at 66; Kim and Miyazato are two shots behind her) or if the "also-rans" can outplay her over four rounds. Also interesting will be whether Super Soph in Waiting Hye Jung Choi (67) will be able to maintain her one-shot lead on Ai Miyazato and Seon Hwa Lee and two-shot lead on Sun Young Yoo at the end of the day Sunday (there are a lot of sophs hovering at the cut line who can join this race with a good round tomorrow); similarly, In-Kyung Kim (67) has a great chance to finish ahead of fellow rookies In-Bee Park, Na On Min, Ji-Young Oh, and Maru Martinez (70), not to mention Angela Park (71). Meena Lee, Kyeong Bae and Teresa Lu can't be happy with their rounds either, having gotten to -4, -4, and -3, respectively, but ending with 70, 71, and 73, thanks late collapses on the supposedly easier front side. Given how vulnerable the course is to scoring and how good the conditions will be tomorrow, they're going to have to watch their backs and pay attention to the cut line. Oh, and I'm trying not to use the "slump" word for Moira Dunn, Pat Hurst, and Virada Nirapathpongporn, but it appears they're going to have great difficulty making the cut this week.]
So if the terrible twos come early, they leave early, right? Onechan actually got through them early, but went back into them for the first few months after imoto was born. I guess this is an argument against Kid 3, eh?
Schulman quotes Giants manager Bruce Bochy following Opening Day:
It wasn't an auspicious start," he said. You hate to have a game like that for your opener, but you're going to have to wash it off. A lot of guys got work out there, got their feet wet.
Bochy nicely leaves unmentioned what it was that wet the feet of a lot of guys working out there, but manages to recommend a prudent clubwide washing nonetheless.
We have to throw the ball a lot better. We made a lot of mistakes out there.
A comprehensive list of the teams shortcomings is in the boxscore, Bochy singling out errant throws for special mention in his comments.
Here's an interesting perspective on such jobs of transcription by Mark Liberman of Language Log called Journalists' Quotations: Unsafe In Any Mood, which highlights one opportune moment in baseball reporting when the subtly mangled quote cannot help but slip in between the uttered word and its printed form.
Such willing errors of transcription are mostly harmless, for all I know. They may arise out of a common professional courtesy extended by baseball reporters to subjects they interview, the grant that something near what was sensibly meant by the subject will somehow make its way onto the page whatever way it's put.
It's easy enough to imagine Schulman's quotes sometimes stretched out on the rack requiring meaning of what's just been uttered, Schulman offering up to the readers of his report a determinedly sensible stretch instead of the train of words which, as originally joined, make no good sense at all.
It's also easy enough to imagine a manager like Bruce Bochy, provoked to discuss the Giants performance on Opening Day, saying just what is meant by the words quoted by Schulman above.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
For now, let me just throw out a few links to the LPGA money list, Rolex Rankings, Golfweek/Sagarin LPGA Performance Index, the tournament site for the Moira Dunn-territory Corning Classic (which just happens to be off my least favorite road, Route 17/86--it's almost killed me a couple of times--but don't let that stop you from checking out the field and official preview, or noticing that it's still a strong field despite only 3 of the top 20 on the money list being in it), and Hound Dog's tournament preview--and tell you a little story about the Japanese media while you wait for the pre-tournament interviews to be loaded onto LPGA.com.
Ryo Ishikawa, the youngest winner ever of a Japanese professional tournament (and maybe in the world--has anyone in the U.S. media bothered to fact-check this claim from the Japanese media?) at age 15, is getting the full SMAP Japanese media treatment, with camera crews even going to his high school to track him down. He gets asked questions like, "What is your type of woman?" (and laughed at when he says, "Someone who will support me when times are tough," because the interviewer was really asking him to name a celebrity). He says he wants to compete with Tiger Woods someday, but lately he just wants his normal life back. Sakura Yokomine, meanwhile, who only broke Mi-Jeong Jeon's 3-tournament winning streak on the JLPGA, would enjoy a little recognition for her accomplishment. Not happening. Apparently even Sakura get upstaged.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Here's a hip-hop showdown between King Giddra ("9-11")--
--and Mos Def/Immortal Technique ("Tell the Truth")--
--I vote for KG. What's your call?
Bonus question: Immortal Technique on a different 9/11 ("The Poverty of Philosophy")--
--or Mos Def on a different disaster ("Katrina Klap")--
? Well, it's Mos Def, of course, b/c of the Emperor Cheney/Darth Bush image midway through.
Then in Japanese, with a little more context:
And finally from a Demashitaa! Powerpuff Z fan:
I'm kind of boycotting this last anime remix version (although it's all over teh youtubes, even subtitled!), at least until we get back to the States. Being an old school PPG fan, I'm not into the (apparent) lack of humor in it. Maybe I'm just missing it in the few untranslated episodes I saw last August.... I'll let you all know in a few months!
Monday, May 21, 2007
(May 18) They're just past the quarter pole in the long long slog through the baseball season, the San Francisco Giants are.
The club's record stood at 20-20 on Friday, 40 games played of the scheduled 162, and although the remaining games may play out for better or worse in the event, finishing the season with half those games won would constitute an improvement over recent seasons, providing a measurable personal consolation I admit for dashed hopes that the club might do much better than that this year. In that respect at least, so far, so good.
Concerns aroused on Opening Day that the club might do worse or even much worse for the rest of the season have frequently enough been validated in miffed play and missed opportunity, with the acknowledged intervention of the admittedly remarkable feat of some athlete on the other team's squad also bearing its own responsibility for the bad outcome now and then.
The experienced, not to say grizzled, veterans of baseball collected on the Giants' lineup this season were gathered there with an eye to avoiding just such calamities with a steady (but it was hoped non-too stolid) season's play in the field. Half the time the assembled Giants squad can't yet meet this expectation. Maybe the warming weather of midseason will limber them enough to cause improvement.
Predictably, Giants relief pitching has coughed up a bunch of games, a likely trend for the foreseeable future with that staff, so any improvement will have to come from somewhere else in the squad. Hit into fewer rally-crushing double plays, move the guy along, make the other team beat you, don't beat yourself, catch that ball, make that play, all that sort of talk needs not only to be taken to heart but more adroitly practiced if the team is to be any better in the balance of the season than it's been so far. Waiting around for the presumptively drug-depleted Barry Bonds to crush yet another home run is a handy tactic the Giants have available, but not a strategy for winning a majority of the club's remaining games. The Giants recently called up outfielders Lewis and Ortmeier from their Fresno AAA club in the absence of injured Dave Roberts. Lewis hit for the cycle in Denver, with a home run, a triple, a double, and not just one but two singles. Veteran outfielder Randy Winn has responded by delivering a week's worth of sharp appearances at the plate himself.
The starting pitching could hardly be improved. It's been admirable. Even the vaunted left arm of Zito seems to be coming around after its disastrous introduction to the team and its fans on Opening Day. It will be interesting to see how it responds to his start tonight in Oakland against his old team, the Athletics, here on the verge of midseason, that long middle of the scheduled games overlapping summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day in America.
UPDATE: (May 19) Hardly had the notoriey of the first day of the season fallen satisfactorily from immediate recall than Barry Zito reproduced last night in Oakland as best he could the exact flavor of his bad first day on the job just across the Bay. Not all of the 15 runs the Athletics scored last night were scored against him, but he did set the tone.
UPDATE: (May 19) The Giant's 7th inning from tonight's game is curious:
B Bonds singled to right. O out OAK 3 SF 0
R Klesko lined out to center. 1 out OAK 3 SF 0
B Molina homered to left, B Bonds scored. 1 out OAK 3 SF 2
M Sweeney struck out swinging,
M Sweeney safe at first on wild pitch by D Haren. 1 out OAK 3 SF 2
M Sweeney stole second. 1 out OAK 3 SF 2
O Vizquel popped out to third. 2 out OAK 3 SF 2
M Sweeney to third on wild pitch by D Haren. OAK 3 SF 2
K Frandsen grounded out to shortstop. 3 out OAK 3 SF 2
Sweeney showed some pep in his progress around the bases in that inning, beating it on down to first when the pitch he swung at and missed for strike three eluded the catcher, then successfully if improbably stealing second base from there, and then once again on his own initiative going from second to third on the pitcher Haren's second wild pitch of the inning. Sweeney didn't complete the circuit of the bases for a run, but more than made up for striking out in the first place, turning his missed stroke into an apperance at third base with no appreciable help from the two who followed him in the lineup.
Each game of baseball evolves uniquely from the press of its bounding rules on the activities of its wilfull participants. Often enough a nice, nice, bit of play leads nowhere, as was the case with Sweeney's advance here. The score for the inning remained the same from his failed hack at the ball to Frandsen's mistruck grounder that conclusively ended the thing at last, the same score it would have been had the catcher simply caught the ball Sweeney missed in the first place. It was nice, nice, baseball, even though effectively it might as well not have happened at all.
UPDATE: (May 21)
Good pitching beats beats good hitting, and visa versa—A truth universally acknowledged in the lore of baseball.
In spite of the repeated comic lapses of Zito's left arm, the collection of starting pitchers on this year's Giants squad is better than any they've gathered together in more than a decade. Yesterday's series (and road trip) ending game in Oakland featured Matt Morris, pitching one of the best games pitched so far this year in all the National League, giving up 2 hits and a run in nine innings and credited for the win. Morris is now 5-1, and but for the previously mentioned tendency of his team to play quite poorly at times, could as soon be 7-1 or 8-1 instead.
The Giants, past the quarter mark, are now 21-22, within striking distance of mediocrity. With good play tonight against the Houston club they'll have it in hand, satisfying my own admitted minimal standard of appreciable improvement on their part for the year, the winning of all of the games half of the time. Achieving that, and some nice play like Sweeney's the other night, would make for a bearable season, I'm thinking.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
And after the leaders there have gotten through the 11th, Lorena Ochoa holds a two-shot lead on Sarah Lee, thanks to four birdies in her past 7 holes and Lee's first over-par 9 of the tournament, a 37 on the front. With the tough 12th ahead of them and a final 6 holes that Ochoa has played better than anyone in the field, it's looking like the Mostly Harmless Crystal Ball may be wrong again.
Brittany Lincicome and Karrie Webb are leaders in the clubhouse at -4, but the real round of the day belongs to Se Ri Pak, who's gotten to -9 and in the thick of the race for third by making 3 birdies and no bogeys on each side thus far. With three holes ahead of her, Pak has a chance to match or surpass the course record Lee set yesterday, but even that may not be good enough to hold off Kate Golden, Sherri Steinhauer, or the charging Juli Inkster, who is three-under through 14--they are all one shot behind her with more holes left to play. The rookie race is heating up, too. In-Kyung Kim is having a bad day but at -3 is one shot ahead of Jane Park and Angela Park (thanks to her double bogey-bogey run on 14 and 15), and one behind Na On Min. Hot play by Brittany Lang (-5 through 16 today, thanks in part to an eagle on 10) and steady play by Morgan Pressel (-1 through 17) has opened up a four-shot lead for Lang in the Super Soph race, with a good chance to card a top-5 finish (she is also 1 behind Pak).
[Update 1 (4:47 am): Ochoa and Lee both parred the tough 12th along with the 13th. The 14th is another difficult hole--I've seen some big numbers there this week. Laura Davies just posted the second-lowest (for now) round of the day, a 69, to garner leader-in-the-clubhouse honors at -5. But with Pak at -6 through 17, Lincicome -5 through 17, and Inkster -3 through 15 on the day, neither her lead in the tournament nor place among the best rounds of the day will stand for long. Min finished at -4, two shots ahead of Jane Park; Kim and Angela Park are both two shots behind Min and not playing well lately--looks like she'll join Lang in moral victory land.]
[Update 2 (5:14 am): Ochoa and Lee matched pars on the tough 14th. In-Kyung Kim is one behind Na On Min with the par-5 18th left to play--a birdie would not only tie her for top rookie honors but get her into a tie for 11th place a -4. Even though Pak (66) failed to follow up her bogey on the 17th with a birdie on the 18th, tie the course record, and finish at double digits under par, it looks like she has 3rd sewn up, as Lang (67) couldn't catch her and everyone else still on the course chasing her is not playing well lately. Speaking of which, there have been some huge disappointments for prominent Korean golfers this week: Jimin Kang's 79 today dropped her all the way to +5 (T43); Christina Kim's 78 was almost as costly, bringing her back to +4 (T38); Meena Lee's 73 and Seon Hwa Lee's 71 look good by comparison, though at +3 (T31) they can't be happy with their finishing behind 8 fellow golfers from the Korean diaspora this week. With the injuries recently afflicting some of the top Korean performers this year--Mi Hyun Kim and Jee Young Lee are out with injuries and Kyeong Bae played hurt (and paid for it with a +11, 63rd-place finish)--their rounds today must be especially disappointing. At least they haven't been featured in the major golf media as saying they feel a win is around the corner, as Natalie Gulbis (73, -2, T17) has. I'm glad she's feeling confident, but with the bad stretch she's playing her way through not yet over, I'd let my clubs do my talking for me until I actually get in contention a few times.]
[Update 3 (5:26 am): Time to review that 100-yen Nishijin crystal ball I bought, in terms of my top-20 predictions. OK, so Kim and Lee withdrew, Granada and Dunn missed the cut, and Francella and Matthew flamed out after good first rounds. But the other 10 people I called--even Helen Alfredsson--got top 20s this week. For the Mostly Harmless Crystal Ball, that's some fine predictin'. Sarah Lee needs to make a move on the last three holes for yesterday's prediction to come true, though--she's still two behind Ochoa.]
[Update 4 (5:36 am): Lee is two back with two to play. Kim could not catch Min in the rookie race. With the Women's British Open at St. Andrews a few months away, it looks like Suzann Pettersen, Laura Davies, and Sherri Steinhauer will be favorites. Even though they played a bit unevenly this week, they all managed top 10s. Not quite a British Invasion, but not bad, either, especially when you consider that Lee was born in England.]
[Update 5 (5:41 am): Looks like Ochoa--two up with only the par-5 18th to play, and Lee is not long enough to reach it in two, I believe. Imada has a 2-shot lead on Matteson and Zach Johnson (the only person on the top 10 in the PGA money list still in the tournament--Charles Howell missed the cut, or pulled a Granada, as we say here in LPGA land) with 5 to play. Would be a great week for young Japanese golfers if he can pull this off.]
[Update 6 (6:07 am): Ochoa it is. When you consider she never was above 68 all tournament, finished 3 strokes ahead of one of the hottest golfers of the past month having a career-best week, 9 strokes ahead of hall-of-famer-to-be Se Ri Pak, who had her best tournament of the year, 10 shots ahead of hall-of-famer Juli Inkster who played pretty damn well, and 14 shots ahead of the people at the bottom of the top 15, defending the first LPGA title since Sorenstam did it awhile back in the process, you can see why she's the world #1 and is likely to stay that way for a good long while. Wow. Meanwhile, Johnson has caught Imada, with Matteson only 1 back. He's two holes ahead of them, so he'd better get to -15 to put some pressure on them.]
[Update 7 (10:53 am): Ah, Johnson beat Imada in a playoff, putting him in Charles Howell-Vijay Singh territory on the money list. It'll be interesting to see how the Japanese media covers Ishikawa, Imada, and Yokomine (I predict it'll be in that order of emphasis).]
At Fukuoka Tower, we stayed all day with several other Japanese moms married to foreigners, mostly by these tiny fountains that you can walk into, mostly because the kids (all pre-schoolers and toddlers) loved them so much. We had a great time, but there was one mini-crisis. The tsuma and another mom had to spring into action late in the afternoon because they were sure a pair of middle-aged Chinese tourists were taking shots of their girls. After taking shots of their own of the guys, they then asked them if they could see the pictures they had taken and deleted the ones with the girls in them. Mixed kids get really exoticized in Japan and apparently in China, as well, even sansai onnanoko, so better safe than sorry. Me, I didn't even notice anything amiss in the first place. It didn't ruin the day for us, but it sure made us think about getting onechan the same kind of surfer-style swimsuit we got for imoto in Hawaii.
At Hakata Wharf, which we spent as much time walking to and from as at, we quickly came to realize the 1914-era ex-luxury cruiser we were visiting was basically yet another Christianity vector. If the Doulos ever happened to pull a Titanic, the world's largest ocean-worthy supply of Bibles and Christian inspirational and self-help literature would be lost. Even though it was fun to meet the twentysomethings from all over the world who are in the middle of their two-year tour of the western Pacific, the whole time I was on board I was thinking, "This is how L. Bob Rife's Raft from Snow Crash got started." If anyone started speaking in tongues, we would have been so out of there, the mood I was in. I was so weirded out, I talked the tsuma out of taking a tour of the ship. In any case, we were so exhausted that we could barely make it through the supermarket on the way home.
We missed the Chukyo Open on tv, where Momoko Ueda was trying to deny Mi Jeong Jeon her fourth consecutive JLPGA win, but we did get to see the 15-year-old Ryo Ishikawa par the last hole for a 66 that put him at -12 in this week's JPGA event, giving him a decent chance to become the youngest amateur in the world to win a pro event. Both of Ai-chan's golfing brothers were chasing him, but his nearest competitor was one shot off with the 596-yard par-5 18th left to play. Of course, that's when Japanese tv decided it was time for the news, so we still don't know what happened. Onechan's watching Chibi Maruko-chan and Sazae-san while I write this and rescue imoto from the more dangerous moments in her career in climbing on the furniture (tsuma's trying to head off a migraine by taking a nap).
So it's been a fantastic weekend, so I'll sign off and go back to entertaining the girls and doing laundry full-time. Hope your weekend involved fun away from the computer!
[Update: Ishikawa did it! (That is, no one caught him!)]
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Still, Young Kim has birdied every par 5 and one par 4 so far to get to -5 through 12 and the ubiquitous Suzann Pettersen had an early birdie-eagle-birdie stretch to get to -5 through 5 but is still there through 11 now. It's nice to see rookie Angela Park outplay legends Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak with a 34 on the front, but as she had gotten to -6 through 5, it's clear she's cooled off a bit lately, too, and is only -5 through 10.
So the big question of the day--with Lee and Ochoa 7 shots up on the field after the front 9, with both playing great this year and this week, and with both comfortable going very low (and capable of switching to conservative mode if the weather takes a turn for the worse)--is, who is going to make a move on the back to turn this into something other than a Sunday Showdown between our co-leaders?
[Update 1 (3:00 am): Apparently not Pettersen--she tripled 12. To give her credit, she birdied 13 to get back among the top 20 in the field, but she's still hanging back with Webb, Pressel, Lang, Kang, Rankin, and Min at -3 instead of with the kewl kidz at -5 through -7 trying to chase down the lead pair.]
[Update 2 (3:20 am): So after two-and-a-half rounds at this course, it appears that the first 11 holes, with 3 par 5s in the bunch, are the ones to take advantage of if you want to go low. Most of the leaders not named Ochoa have made their mark on these holes. However, as Ochoa's incredible play on the back shows, if you can play the tough 12th as well as you played the equally tough 9th, you can think about making another run on the last 6 holes (especially with the 18th being a par 5). Kate Golden is a great example of this, having birdied three of her first four holes on the back to get to -6 through 13 (despite having shot 37 and 38 on the back the previous two days). At only 2-under through 11, we'll see if Inkster, Steinhauer, and Jo can get hot and make it a 5-person race, but they'll have to have the toughness of Pettersen, who just birdied another hole to get two-thirds of the way to erasing her triple. Angela Park, at -3 through 11 today, has the third-best start of the leaders--too bad for her it's the co-leaders who have the two best starts, with Lee at -6 and Ochoa -5 through 10.]
[Update 3 (3:23 am): Looks like another software glitch--the site hasn't been updated for 10 minutes and you can't look at scorecards anymore--so I'll be back at the end of the round.]
[Update 4 (3:50 am): Ah, it may be a problem on my end--I'm not getting any non-Japanese sites to show up on my browser. So I'll note that after two rounds at the Chukyo Open, Momoko Ueda is a co-leader, two shots up on Mi Jeong Jeon, who's gunning for her fourth consecutive win on the JLPGA. I wonder when the young guns of the JLPGA--Sakura Yokomine, Shinobu Moromizato, and Ueda, especially--will follow Ai-chan to the LPGA? They have to be able to do better than Riko Higashio!]
[Update 5 (4:13 am): I'm glad to see the Japan Times added this article on the surge of interest in golf among girls in Japan to their website!]
[Update 6 (7:05 am): Hound Dog has the 3rd round results, and I agree with him it's a two-player race between Lee (-16) and Ochoa (-14). With better weather coming to Clifton, I could see a few people going sub-65 Sunday, but even if the right people do, you can count on the leaders to go sub-70. I think Lee will hold off Ochoa. If I ever get access to non-Japanese web sites again, I'll get to find out for myself how good that Mostly Harmless crystal ball is this week (I'm feeling pretty good about its top 20 predictions from a few posts back). (BTW, I can still get into blogger and read blogspot.com sites, so assuming the worst I'm counting on Hound Dog to do some live blogging tomorrow....)]
[Update 7 (6:41 pm): I got my connection back--woo! Here are the interviews with Lee and Ochoa. And here are the pairings for Sunday's round. Looks like a nice Angela Park-In Kyung Kim-Na On Min-Jane Park rookie showdown to match the Lee-Ochoa one. And Brittany Lang will be trying to hold off Morgan Pressel for top Super Soph honors.]
Friday, May 18, 2007
Not for leader Sarah Lee, mind you, who made four birdies and an eagle to offset three bogeys and ended up at -9. Nor for Young Jo, who made three birdies on each side on her way to a 67, good enough for the low round of the day and second place in the clubhouse at -5. And not for Nina Reis, who continued her "make a lot of birdies and bogeys" policy from yesterday on her way to a 71 today, which got her to -1 for the tournament (T21 so far) and within striking distance of fellow Super Soph in Waiting Hye Jung Choi, who could only manage a 73 today (-3, amazingly still T8 right now). A few other people kept it in the low 70s and moved into the top 30 by doing so, among them former Rookie of the Year Dorothy Delasin (71, -1, T21). And Maggie Will and Meg Mallon got moral victories at least by firing a pair of 70s, the third-best number of the day so far, even though Will is very unlikely to make the cut and Mallon won't.
But for most of the field, Friday was moving backwards day. Some only moved a little backwards, like rookie Paige Mackenzie (74, +2, T47) and my end-of-season top 11 picks Kyeong Bae (73, +3, T55) and Seon Hwa Lee (76, +3, T55). But many moved right back to or behind the cut line, headed by Jeong Jang (80, +7, T105), but including such potential Super Sophs as Linda Wessberg (78, +6, T95), Teresa Lu (77, +6, T95), Sun Young Yoo (77, +4, T70), Minea Blomqvist (77, +10, T126), and Karin Sjodin (74, +4, T70). And those weren't even the ugliest rounds of the day: 8 players joined Jang in failing to break 80.
The afternoon scores are getting better, though. Sure, Mi Hyun Kim shot a 38 on the back to fall back to +4, right with Julieta Granada and Moira Dunn on the cut line as of now at T70. And Catriona Matthew, at five-over through 12, has free-fallen to +2 (T47) with 6 holes to play. But the contenders have begun to do some exciting things. Lorena Ochoa may be getting some momentum on the back, having birdied 11 and 12 to get to -6. Brittany Lincicome is keeping pace with her. Juli Inkster (-4 through 11) has the best round of the afternoon players going and Brittany Lang (-3 through 10) has joined her at -5 (T4). Laura Davies (-3 through 11) and Sherri Steinhauer (-2 with 5 holes on the front left to play) have gotten to -4 (T7). Even rookie Sarah Lynn Sargent is getting in the act, birdieing three of her first five holes in a strong bid to make the cut (+3, T55).
The cut line keeps going back and forth between +3 and +4. Lee's -9 looks like it'll hold up as best start of the tournament, but it looks like she may have 10-20 people within striking distance over the weekend. That's where things stand now at the Sybase Classic.
[Update 1 (4:52 am): WTF?! The LPGA's scoreboard software must be glitchy today! All of a sudden the leaderboard has changed drastically! I'm going back to edit the original post. Be right back. (Actually, I went back and re-edited the post to go back the way it was; the glitch actually occurred during my first and second updates, which I'm leaving up for no good reason except the time I put into them!--TC, 7:55 am.)]
[Update 2 (5:20 am): First the corrections: Sarah Lee is still on the course; she just bogeyed 2 and doubled 3 to fall back to -5 for the tournament, 1 shot behind Lincicome, and 2 shots behind Ochoa, who definitely is getting hot. Meena Lee is still right in the tournament at -2 with 9 holes to go (I erased the part of my original post that had her over par after round 2 before I realized it wasn't my mistake but an LPGA.com glitch). Seon Hwa Lee, Kyeong Bae, and Sun Young Yoo (what is it with the software screwing with Koreans' scores?) are also still on the course--none are playing particularly well, but all have a good shot to make the cut (as does Mi Hyun Kim, by the way, who just birdied 3 and 5 to get back to +2 on the tournament). The same can't be said for Linda Wessberg, who, like Moira, will either need a strong finish or weak finishes from others to move the cut line back to +4. Maggie Will is also still on the course and holds her fate in her hands: she's having a good round at two-under through 15, but she's still at +5 for the tournament. OK, updates to come in a second now that I finished these corrections!]
[Update 3 (5:40 am): The 5th and 7th holes are reachable par-5s, so those who started on the back today have a great opportunity to post strong finishes. Sherri Steinhauer is one such person--she has just leapfrogged into second after birdieing both of them, along with 3 others in her last 8 holes. But she's two shots behind Ochoa, who has birdied 4 of her last 8 holes, all on the back, after making 3 birdies and 3 bogeys on the front. Lang, Inkster, and Davies are three-under on their days with less than 5 holes to play for each; Karrie Webb is making a late move to join them in the -4 to -5 range, having birdied 13 and 16 to get to -3 for the tournament (she'd be right in the thick of things if she hadn't tripled 12 on Thursday!). Jimin Kang is making a bit of a move on the front, having birdied 1, 3, and 5 to get to -1 for the tournament; Suzann Pettersen is also back under par after birdies on 16 and 17. Ashli Bunch shot a 32 on the back and has lots of birdie opportunities ahead of her to improve on her T31 position (E), and pass people like Meaghan Francella, Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis, and Reilley Rankin, who have fallen back to the -1 to E range. Sarah Lynn Sargent is now also 4-under today. Moira Dunn and Julieta are both at +5 with two holes left to play--they need to birdie out to ensure making the cut and get at least 1 to avoid missing the cut, as Maggie Will ended up doing, after all.]
[Update 4 (5:57 am): What is going on with LPGA.com today?! Sarah Lee's scorecard looks exactly like it did before I started updating and editing this post! Ochoa shot a 31 on the back to tie her for the lead going into the weekend. After doubling 12, Morgan Pressel birdied 16 and 18 to get back to -2 on the tournament (T14). More after breakfast!]
[Update 5 (6:57 am): It's very strange that all the scores I struck during my Update 2 edit/correction ended up being right. So far 10 people have failed to break 80. And probably only 10-15 people have a chance to catch Lee and Ochoa, after all. Rookie Jane Park is one of them, courtesy of a birdie-double-eagle-par-birdie run midway through her round--we'll see if she can get alone in third closer than the 4 shots behind the leaders she is now, with 4 left to play.]
[Update 6 (8:22 am): Well, as I didn't quite figure out in the previous two updates, I was right the first time! I've changed the post back to its original language. Now that the round is over, I'm pretty sure it's not a software glitch that Jane Park finished strong to post a 68 and get within two shots of Lee and Ochoa. Like them, she has a great chance tomorrow to distance herself from the rest of the leaders, none of whom were able to put two sub-70 rounds together and hence are bunched between -5 (T4) and -3 (T11). With 31 people at par or better, there are still many opportunities for weekend charges (witness Jeanne Cho-Hunicke's 69 that got her right on the cut line at +4; if a non-exempt rookie can do this, anyone can!). With 4 rookies under par and 6 Super Sophs at par or better, there are some good races-within-the-race, as well, not to mention the question of whether Inkster, Pak, Davies, and Webb will be able to capitalize on their fine starts. On a tree-lined course, with sketchy weather predicted for the weekend--another cold and probably rainy day Saturday and warmer, although possibly still rainy, weather Sunday--anything can happen and no lead is safe. How the weather affects players in Saturday's pairings will definitely be worth watching--the cliche that everyone plays under the same conditions definitely does not hold true when the weather is changeable like it will be tomorrow.]
[Update 7 (8:54 am): They're clearly trying to fix their scoreboard at LPGA.com. Hopefully they'll get that straightened out soon. Sooner than the media straightens out their questions in interviews, probably. More fun, especially with Park and Steinhauer!]