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Cheddar Bay Leaderboard

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No complaints here.

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I’ll admit that my “Browns Troll” piece currently in the ‘Draft’ category might be aways away from publication.

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I got nothing.  Not right now.

Is Andy Dalton a bag of suck?  Oh sure, you bet; but now’s not the time.  Have I said that Buster Skrine plays good positionally and my greivance is with his size?  Yeah* sure, but who cares… cover your ass posts are boring in general and particularly self-centered if done after such a glorious weekend.  Squeeze in just a smidgeon of juxtaposition between Dolan’s off-season and Haslam’s…?  Oh HELL NO!

No, no, no.  Not now.

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Lots of space there Braxton.

Because it’s lovely lovely lovely to have a solid Buckeye win at home over a top team; a Browns domination of a perennial playoff team; and the Indians blowing everyone’s mind and getting into the playoffs.

Let’s offer some comment on all three.

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1.  The Buckeyes.
I sure have some solid memories of national spotlight games in Columbus not going according to plan.  That wasn’t the case Saturday.  Braxton Miller looks poised running an offense who just won their line of scrimmage battle all night.  On defense, who knew Joel Stave had that game in him?  The Badgers were just good enough to provide a lot of coachable moments for Coach Meyer and none to soon with the at Northwestern game coming up.  The Bucks look good — but not great — and certainly shouldn’t be overconfident going to Evanston.

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NFL: San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

Don’t overthink it, Joe: sign em both.

2.  The Browns.
First off, I have to say that watching in a bar is sub-optimal.  But my vibe from the game was that it never felt like the Browns weren’t dominating.

Err..  I can’t not write SOMETHING about Jay Gruden’s odd non-use of Gio Bernard and bizarre fixation on five yard under patterns for AJ Green.  How a team can have Gresham, Eifert, Green, Sanu matched up against the shortest secondary and not go up top is .. it’s a poser, I’ll tell ya.  If I do the Bengals’ blame pie, I’m settling in of equal parts Gruden weak OC, Dalton-bag-o-suck, and Browns defense that good.

Wait a sec, let me kick up the Browns’ defense credit from 33% to 50%.  Because Joe Haden’s performance on AJ Green a COUPLED WITH just the right amount of smack talk was so money.  I can’t think of a cornerback I’d rather have.  Revis? Peterson?  Sherman?  Nope, I’m good with Haden thanks.

And Hoyer, yes you can be quarterback.  You executed the best (only?) screen pass by the Browns in the last 20 years.  I actually don’t think that’s an exaggeration.  Hoyer is proof that ‘good’ QB is meaningless in the face of ‘smart’ QB or at least ‘competent enough to remember he has a tall tight end who can win jump balls’ QB.  Jordan Cameron… didn’t see that one coming either.

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Note teammate Perez up front.

3.  The Indians.
Like many of you, I lost interest after that Tigers series in August and in particular after that brutal blown save shutout in the first game.  (Cripes, it’s painful even to look at that boxscore.)  The responsible blogger/journo in me wants to remind you of some stat on how the Tribe does against good teams.  But the fan in me won’t even google it and says in boldface:  NINETY-TWO WINS.  15-2 to close the season.  Yessir, good things can happen when try to win now and that’s nuf ‘ced on that for now too.

Salazar is a revelation.  In fact, the rotation looks like a real rotation with Ubaldo-Kazmir-Kluber-Salazar and what’s up with Masterson?  Is he our closer now?  See?  I really haven’t been paying attention closely enough.  The games are on in the background and my ears perk when personal fave Michael Brantley does something awesome.

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Carmen Ohio kickstarter.


My favorite national anthem. ^^^

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I was all set to dig into “Why hasn’t Alex Mack been signed” today but when I found myself mixing it up with Brent Sobleski on Joe-Banner-is-getting-too-cute-with-Alex-Mack, I decided to a step back and reflect.

Nope,, still think Banner’s playing chicken with his pending UFA center who has started 48 consecutive games and who seems to be well respected in the league and even in Berea.

But that’ll keep.  Let’s go in a different direction altogether today.

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What the hell is pop culture anyway?

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Click me.
R.I.P. Earl.

I chuckle when I see sports blogs branching in ‘pop culture.’  You all know Grantland does that to get more page hits right?  It’s a business decision aimed at bringing non-sporty types to a particular website.  It’s not illustrative of any paradigm shift representing the convergence of sports and music and movies… sorry it’s not.  Or maybe it is, I don’t know.  Don’t care.  I do know it doesn’t generally speak to me and that’s fine, I know I’m not the target demo.

That’s not to say it can’t be worthwhile.  Occasionally, I’ll be turned on to something I wasn’t hip to.  For example, Art Brosef‘s fondness for bluegrass prompted me to dig in and led me to OCMS to Earl Scruggs to Doc Watson to Maybelle Carter to Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.  For that tip I am still grateful.

But instead of categorizing this piece as pop culture, let me just call it what it is:  a point of personal privilege to offer up something of interest to me in the hope that maybe you’ll be interested in it too.

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One man A capella.

Julien Neel (aka Trudbol) is a talented singer who lives in France.  That’s all I know about him.  I can’t remember how I stumbled onto his work.  I’ve always had a fondness for Barbershop, have a good friend who’s in a superlative chorus, and was probably clicking around looking for the Family Guy Vasectomy song, when I stumbled onto this.

Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie.  Love that song.  I’m a sap, can’t help it.  Love his version of it and I think he does a superlative job on it.  Now I’m a subscriber to his YouTube channel and if you like chorus, barbershop, A capella, you might want to subscribe too.  His work is for sale here. (more…)

Bruins-Pens. True hate.

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No goons here. 402 + 1106 + 433 + 560 = 2501 points duking it out.

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If you’re a casual hockey fan I don’t need to tell you this but:  the Bruins-Penguins series should be epic.  For my Browns-centric friends, there’s a whole Steelers angle here that’ll help you understand the fuss if you don’t already.

The James Harrison of the Pens.

As Browns fans, we look upon the Steelers with loathing and respect and bewilderment.  They’ve consistently brought a mix of incredible talent with requisite dirtiness to deliver more championships than any other team back to their fans.  The bewildering part is that the high success has been maintained for decades.  Bradshaw and Lambert give way to Roethlisberger and Harrison.  Even the ‘down period’ between those eras yielded six straight playoff appearances with freaking O’Donnell/Tomczak/Stewart at QB.

Now picture the same special kind of dominance except the ‘down period’ is 15 years instead of 25.*  A team blessed with the two best players in the league yet also a cheap-shotting team who move a step beyond concussing players (Cribbs-MoMass-McCoy) and onto ending careers.

That’s the Pittsburgh Penguins.

What are the chances that a team could manage to build around the two best players in the league twice in 15 years?  Yet here we are and the Lemieux/Jagr era has been followed up with Crosby/Malkin.  The 90s supporting cast of Mullen HOF, Murphy HOF, Francis HOF, Coffey HOF, Trottier HOF, Stevens, Recchi, Straka, Tocchet, Barrasso gives way to the current Iginla, Letang, Neal.

Crosby: on board with that Pens thing.

(Ok, they’re not as stacked as that 90s team but the Roethlisberger Steelers weren’t as stacked as Bradshaw’s and still won two SBs.)

But unlike, say, a Red Wings dynasty where you just tip your cap… the Penguins manage to be hate-able and for Bruins fans the hate is personal.

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Ulf Samuelsson ends Cam Neely’s career.  

My all-time favorite hockey player and it’s not close:  Cam Neely.  You’ve never seen a player with the combo of big and physical and bad-ass yet with such masterful scoring touch.  A once in a generation player completely different from the style of Gretzky or Lemieux.  He was his own enforcer and that’s partly why his career ended technically at 30 but actually at 25.  Here’s the video of Samuelsson’s infamous leg check.  It led to myositis ossificans** the net being that his injured muscle turned into an inoperable brick of bone.

Following the aforementioned injury, Neely managed to play only 9 and 13 games, respectively, over the next two seasons, and never played more than 49 games in a season after that due to the pain associated with the now chronic condition.

Neely’s 50 goals in 49 games in 1993-94 was the greatest season-long performance I’ve ever seen.  Harry Sinden’s subsequent low-balling on Cam was the darkest mark in the dark period Sinden/Jacobs/Kvartolov era.  Fortunately for the Bruins, Cam forgave them and has proven himself to be a great president.

Ulfie stayed with Pens through their back-to-back cups before moving on.  Not usually a fan of Tie Domi or head injuries but there’s an element of justice here.

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Matt Cooke ends Marc Savard’s career.

Marc Savard was an important part of the 2010 Bruins.  He was an in 2008 and 2009 and was trending to his usual 90 points as the Bruins’ first line center.  Then the cheapest shot one of the top-5 cheapest shots in the history of the NHL.

Matt Cooke was not fined, nor was he suspended or reprimanded in any way for this hit.  Marc Savard is assistant coach for his son’s pee-wee team.

Don Cherry gets it 100% right here.  It includes a highlight reel with about ten Cooke cheap shots:

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Worth a follow: @si_vault and @uniformcritic.

A rare color photo from a 1956 Browns-49ers preseason game.

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Not too too much happening today that we haven’t covered before.  I could point out that Jay Gruden’s emphasis of exploiting advantages with tall receivers was foretold here at Kanick before the draft:

Let’s play it out and see what happens if it is not addressed and in our role-play, Kolonich is Jay Gruden:  If DK is offensive coordinator for the Bengals, he has already started working on the many ways he can isolate AJ Green (6’4″), Mohammed Sanu (6’2″), and Marvin Jones (6’2″) on Skrine (5’9″).  And it’s still April.  By the fall, DK will have a play where Jermaine Gresham (6’5″) goes in motion wide to what is now called the ‘Skrine Side.’

But we’ve done that to death.

Indians talk?  Sure they absolutely look great but I suspect there will be plenty of Tribe Talk available throughout the web today.

Nope.  Let’s do some old-man sports and picture lookin.  For fans of oldie-timey sports photography, I’m happy to recommend @si_vault and @uniformcritic for your twitter timelines.

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If you’re under 40, you probably missed out on the magic that was Sports Illustrated in its prime.  If you were lucky, your dad had a subscription.  If not, SI made the waiting room of your dentist or doctor much more pleasant.  I remember liking SI.  But since following Andy Gray (aka, @si_vault) and seeing his links in my timeline, I’m struck by how well the photography holds up over time.  With 80,000+ followers, he doesn’t need me to kick up his count.  But if you’re not following him, here’s a sample of his tweets over the last month.

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Here’s a great Neil Leifer pic of a field goal attempt during a 1969 Vikings-Cowboys playoff game. (Where the fans at, Minny?)

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Bobby Orr clears the puck during a 1970 Flyers-Bruins game.

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Seeking perfection in an imperfect world.

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Refs have decided games for decades. Perhaps it is the fan that needs to be ‘fixed,’ not the game processes.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

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Foul on Noah, game over.
No need for replay tonight.

I’ve been sitting on the germ of an important post for a couple days now and I’ve been struggling to tighten it up.  Last night helped.  Anyone catch that Bulls-Heat game?  If you did, you lost count on the number of poor officiating calls.  But let’s say it was about a dozen.  And this, I think, helps to set up today’s point:

After watching the game-butchery referees are capable of prone to, what an absurd notion it is that sporting events should employ video replay under the canard of ‘wanting to get it right.’  Wouldn’t we all be better served through re-calibrated thinking that acknowledges that sports, like life, is not always fair?  That elements of risk and imperfection are part of the fabric of the human experience here on Earth?  That chasing the ‘getting it right’ Utopia is a fool’s errand?  Are these concepts too sophisticated for today’s sports fan?

Well.  You can see why I’ve been challenged to get my arms around this thought.  So hang in there and let me build a case.

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The Indians seem to be the beneficiary of missed call Wednesday night and umbrage is rampant.  In ninth inning of a 4-3 game, Adam Rosales hit a fly ball off Chris Perez that was ruled a double on the field.  The umpires retired to review the play using video replay and determined there was insufficient evidence to award a game-tying homerun.  Most people watching replays at home saw it as a homerun and expressed this point of view on social and regular media vigorously.

Oops.

I too thought it looked like a homerun.  And even with the game-lengthening technology of replays out of New York with every angle available, a mistake was made.

But the incident calls into question a larger issue:  how has the acceptance of human frailties, bad luck, rub of the green become so culturally foreign?  We all hate when bad calls happen.  But they happen and will happen so long as games are adjudicated by other imperfect humans.  Wednesday night showed that with all the game-slowing safeguards in place, even the best technology cannot assure the utopia of perfect referee-ing.  The reminders happen frequently but yet when a crack in the matrix is revealed, it’s met with indignity and proposals to ‘fix’ the ‘problem.’

The world is an imperfect place, and we’d all be better served by a more realistic perspective on this.

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Why Cleveland is great x3.

#1:  ^^Far and away the best highlight of yesterday’s home opener.

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We’ll return to salty observations on sports soon.

But today, can’t help but be struck by the overwhelming evidence supporting our working theory that Cleveland is tops.

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#1:  Dad muffs foul ball; Clevelander rights potential disturbance in The Force.

In the clip above, Dad and seven year old brought their gloves to the stadium and why not?  Seats on the third base line, prime foul ball spot.  In fact, we can’t rule out that Dad and son snuck down to open seats on the line late in the blow-out game explicitly for just such opportunity as they would meet.

But with the miracle of a slicing foul ball coming straight at Dad — lifetime memories on the line — .. we have to score it:  E-Dad.  Patrons a couple rows away reflexively raise hands in exasperation at Dad’s gag.  Adjacent fan contributes obligatory and deserved “Boooo.”

But thanks to being in Cleveland with Clevelanders around him, all was made right.

Lifetime memories?  Oh yes, this story will be retold by one person in this picture for 60-70 years if all goes well.

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#2:  Terry Francona confirms the difference between Cleveland and Boston.

“Cleveland is officially the nicest people I’ve ever met,” he said. “Everybody I did walk by said, ‘Hello.’ That’s a little different than I’m used to.”

In fairness, it is confusing to walk from the Residence Inn to the Jake/Q complex.  Hopefully the lesson was learned and our manager remembers to use his modified Rascal for his next commute to the field.  And anyway, we want Francona-on-scooter to become another thread in Cleveland’s fabric.

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Click for more Francona-scooter lore.

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Click for link to Withers’ story.

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Ethical Friday, part 2: SIE.

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For the sake of better discussion, I’ve split this into two posts.  Issue #1:  To get busy with SBNation’s abominable post yesterday, or not? is found here.

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Issue #2:  Whom do I serve?

I received a curious email last night from the Editor of SportIsEverything.com.  This is the new Irish sports web site who recruited me provide content on American football.

Hi Kanick,

I received a complaint earlier about a swearword in your safest/riskiest draft picks piece. If possible, could you avoid using them in future.

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Wouldn’t be my first choice for a headline or photoshop effort..

That’s not unreasonable I suppose.

Ironic though, given some of the content on the site.

Just in this week, there was a ‘Best of Web’ feature with a picture of Brittany Spears’ bare fat ass.  There was a post comparing the Irish Football coach to Hitler… moustache and everything.  I mean:  _I_ had begun questioning whether I wanted _my_ posts on _their_ site.

Ok, the site has some different goals and they’ve been fine to work with.  Still happy to be affiliated.

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But then the swear word admonishment was followed up with an exhaustive critique of my Safest/Riskiest Draft Picks post by a peer writer.  (His excerpting of my content is in grey):

Good morning Kanick

I have to say I am appalled by your post about ‘safest/riskiest draft positions’. It is sloppily written, full of inaccuracies, pointless sexual references and even swearing, which will only serve to get the entire site blocked by many firewalls. ___Editor___ has told me he is not 100% hot on NFL facts and figures so he has accepted your article on a trust basis. Your article is a disgrace and this is why; (more…)

Ethical Friday, part 1: SBN.

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Two items have crossed my desktop this morning and added together, they present an ethical dilemma for your friend Kanick.  Boiled down, the dilemma concerns what do I stand for and should I share it you.

It’s tempting to ignore such questions and to avoid conflict or controversy.  Easier.

But I’ve been moved by two Edmund Burke quotations:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

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The important message, as always: no oxford shirts courtside.

And with that, let’s proceed.

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Issue #1:  To get busy with SBNation’s abominable post yesterday, or not?

[Issue #2:  Whom do I serve? may be found here.]

SBNation made me sad yesterday.  An unfunny race-baiting post was put forward under their masthead by Bill Hanstock.  The post is comprised of the tired old ‘let’s make fun of white guys’ meme that we see on our twitter feeds and some blog posts daily.  Such tweets and posts are grating, but we generally let them pass.

But damn.

The SBNation piece is beyond the pale and requires a response.  The dilemma is that I want to talk sports here, not debate the decline of civilization.*

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The post fails on so many levels I’m hard-pressed to stack rank them.

  • I start here:  it’s unfunny.  It’s not ‘not funny’… it’s unfunny.  Cringe inducing.  Discomfiting.  The author knows he’s white, right?  Are we to believe he’s never high-fived another white guy?  Has he never worn an oxford shirt?  It’s like:  guy, you’re judging yourself.
  • There should be no place for racist commentary like this on a site as large as SBNation.  Replace ‘black people’ for ‘white people’ in the piece and you can be sure that anonymous would be planning a DDOS attack on Vox servers today. (more…)

New friends: SportIsEverything.com.

The web is both a big place and small place. The same can be said for the world.

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A few weeks ago, Kanick received an interesting email from Ireland.

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Our new friends may or may not by be portrayed in these horribly unfair caricatures which we wholly disavow.

I’m launching a sports website in Ireland called Sport Is Everything and we are looking for contributors for our NFL section.

I was reading your blog and really enjoyed it. I was wondering if you would be interested in submitting some of your articles to the new Sport Is Everything site? … I would reference every article and provide an author box on each post. … It would be a win-win situation for all involved, as it would introduce Irish football fans to your site.

Let me know what you think and thanks for getting back to me.

And so it is that step two in our plan for global media reconstruction falls into to place via the kind offices of the discerning editors from Sport Is Everything.

Check out the site, it’s sharp.

For the soccer fans among us, I think you’ll appreciate the thorough coverage of English and Euro football leagues.  Do give the Final Third podcasts a listen if you want some soccer talk done.  Or.. done pretty much like you and I would do our football talk.

And here is your Kanick page.

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I expect to proceed just as I have been.  At the same time, I’m grateful for the kind words and for the opportunity share perspectives with our sports brethren in Europe.  Look alive.  We’re worldwide now.

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Jack Nicklaus, class act.

No probs between these two.

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Jack Nicklaus was in the news this morning.  He still thinks Tiger can get to his record and still has not a hint of pridefulness about it:

In what now sounds like a broken record, Nicklaus maintains that records are made to be broken, including his gold standard of 18 professional majors, despite Woods’ rough weekend.

“I still think he’ll break my record.  Tiger’s talent, at 37 … it’s not that old. I won four after that. They were spread out. It wasn’t that difficult. I don’t think for Tiger to get four or five more — or six or seven — is that big a stretch.”

Pretty cool.

Pretty classy.

Pretty much as good as it gets in pro sports.

Pretty great to count him as a Buckeye.

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Nicklaus’ record of accomplishment is unmatched.  There’s the 18 pro majors, but that doesn’t count his two US Amateurs.  The US Amateur is definitely a major; a week long match play tournament against the best in the country.  It.  Is.  Brutal.  (Likewise, Tiger’s three consecutive US Amateurs are too often overlooked.)

So by my math, that’s 20 majors for Nicklaus; 17 for Woods.  And not a hint of pettiness from Nicklaus concerning the probable elimination of his record.

This is not new for Nicklaus.

The 1969 Ryder Cup is the most famous example of Nicklaus’ sportsmanship.  He drained a five foot putt on the final hole of their match then conceded Jacklin’s two footer to leave their match and the Ryder Cup as a draw.

From Steven Redgrave:

Nicklaus and Jacklin: sportsmanship.

One of the most important putts in the history of the Ryder Cup and Nicklaus wouldn’t let his opponent fail. As he handed Jacklin the marker, he explained his behaviour. ”I don’t think you would have missed that putt, but under these circumstances I would never give you the opportunity.” The match was halved, the tournament ended in a tie for the first time in its 42-year history and the two players walked contentedly off the green, arm in arm. However, the Americans retained the trophy as the previous winners, so Nicklaus hadn’t exactly let the side down.

Funnily enough, his team-mates were not all best pleased that they had been denied an out-and-out victory. Neither was captain Sam Snead. But Nicklaus’s philosophy was this: he believed good sportsmanship should be as much a part of the Ryder Cup as good competition and ‘the concession’ is now immortalised in golfing history.

As for Nicklaus’ golf, you will hear talk about his playing against a softer field that Woods does today.  It may be so, but as a golfer I can tell you that you are defined by your play when under the greatest pressure.  Here are just a few examples where Nicklaus simply out-clutched his opponents in majors:

Q: Why should you hold up a 1-iron in a thunderstorm?
A: Because even God can’t hit a 1-iron.

1962 US Open, Oakmont.  Nicklaus shoots 69 in the final round against Palmer’s 71 to set up a playoff.  Playing on Palmer’s effective home course, Nicklaus is not rattled by the ‘Fat Jack’ and ‘Ohio Fats’ cat calls from the Pittsburgh gallery.  He cards 71, Palmer 74; Nicklaus wins his first pro major.

1970 British Open, St. Andrews.  Everyone is familiar with Doug Sanders’ infamous three foot missed putt.  (See 11:00 in link.)  It’s as bad a stroke as you’ll see and many say that miss handed Nicklaus that particular major.  But that version of history fails to note that Nicklaus made an eight foot birdie on the 18th to win the next day’s playoff.

1972 US Open, Pebble Beach.  Nicklaus one-iron on the 218 yard 17th with a howling wind in his face.  Hits the pin, stops three inches from hole.

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I happen to find his setting the Scioto course record (66) at 15 to be both fascinating and revealing.  How many 15 year olds have what it takes to close out a round for a course record anywhere (let alone Scioto)? How many child prodigies full of potential go on to realize that potential?

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Ironically, Carmelo Anthony prompted this post.

The germ of this post was found last night.  Coming off a tough home loss to the Heat, the Knicks were sleep-walking through the first half of their game against the Cavs.  With his team down 22, Carmelo Anthony gets ‘injured.’

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