Red and Green
What a crazy April! It’s Master’s week in golf and the Nationals are headed home after a season-opening road trip…and we’re talking about measurable snow for the area this weekend! More on the first 2 things in a bit, but on the Shenandoah University front, things have seemingly returned to normal as the number-22 ranked Hornet baseball team is on a nice 5-game winning streak after an up-and-down start and are now sitting at 15-6 on the season.
Now for the “Red” part of this week’s post: The Washington Nationals are now playing baseball for real, as they began the 2018 season under new manager Dave Martinez. Unlike previous skipper Dusty Baker, Martinez seems to be more of a student of baseball analytics, and has made some lineup changes this season, most notably Trea Turner in the 6-spot. Adam Eaton has returned from last year’s knee injury, Bryce Harper is playing possibly his last season in a Nat’s uniform and already has 4 homers, and when Daniel Murphy comes back, the Nats should be loaded. And the Nationals have one of the best starting rotations in the majors, with the exception of the 5th spot.
That’s where I become the oscillating fan. AJ Cole is not the answer. He was shelled by the Braves this week, giving up a franchise high in runs allowed in a start with 10, and although it’s a small sample size, the “eye-test” tells me he is not a major-league starter.
Why is there the need for a 5th starter? I am old-school, in that I grew up in an age where most teams had a 4-man rotation and it was nothing for a starter to throw 8 or 9 innings. Today we have lefty-righty specialists, set-up men, 7th & 8th inning pitchers, and closers. Starters don’t go much beyond 5 or 6 innings anymore, and with days-off here and there, surely they are getting enough rest. You can’t convince me that a starter today can’t go out there every 4th (and sometimes 5th) day.
OK, enough. In the big picture, you’ll take a 4-2 road trip anytime. I just hate losing to the Braves…
Now for the “Green” portion of this post. As of this writing, golf’s first “major” is underway at Augusta National Golf Club, The Masters. The prize is the coveted green jacket, and for me, this Masters has a buzz that hasn’t been present in a while.
Yes, you can point to the comeback of Tiger Woods for a lot of that buzz. This time, Tiger is playing well, and appears to be pain-free. If anyone knows Augusta National , it’s Tiger Woods, and with a closet-full of green jackets already, he is certainly capable of winning another, even in his 40’s. Don’t forget that Jack won his last Masters at 46.
Add to the mix one Phil Mickleson, a multiple Masters winner, and golf’s “young guns” like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, along with Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson, and you’ve got the making of a special Masters weekend.
The feel-good story of the week has to be the mellowing of Phil and Tiger. Early in their careers, the two were bitter rivals, and probably didn’t like each other very much. Mickleson, very much the family man, was among Wood’s harshest critics when Tiger’s infamous infidelity came to light. The two have become good friends, and hopefully will be paired together this Sunday, when, as they say, “the Masters really begins.”
Take time from shoveling your April snow this weekend, and enjoy the Azaleas and Magnolias and “A Tradition Like No Other!”
Until next time…GO NATS & HORNETS!