Friday, June 8, 2012
By most accounts, Phil Mickelson is a good guy. He's pleasant with the media,
doesn't drop-kick his club after bad shots, and he signs autographs for many of the
fans who come to watch his play. But last week, the man known as Lefty turned
as soft as his physique. After shooting a 79 in the first round of The Memorial
Tournament, he pulled a "No mas", and withdrew from the event, citing "mental fatigue."
Mickelson's had it pretty good in his life, never having to work a real job. He's won $67
million in his career and has another $150 million in the bank from endorsements. Lefty
only plays in 20 events a year and usually flies to them on his private jet. I'm not sure
the mother who has to work two jobs to support five kids can fully appreciate Mickelson's
However, there was another reason for Mickelson's sudden departure: cell phones. A lot
of cell phones and a lot of picture taking with them. PGA Tour policy actually does permit
cell phones at tournaments, they'd just rather not have people taking people's like they are
free-lance photographers for TMZ. Mickelson usually has big crowds that follow him during
tournaments and apparently a lot of people were snapping off photos and sending their lame,
out of focus, looking-like they were shot from the blimp pictures to Facebook. (Isn't that
what everybody does these days? At least a bad picture of Phil is better than the silly ones
of food that seem to be everywhere on the newsfeed.)
Mickelson was distracted by the sounds that come form the cell phones and it really affected
his game. Even Bubba Watson felt sorry for Phil saying, "It's sad when cell phones can make
or break a championship. Bubba, are you kidding me? You're going to blame a bad score on
a cell phone? It's utterly ridiculous that a golf course has to be as quiet as an empty church.
You have to walk around on egg shells or you may incur the wrath of Mickelson or even Tiger
Woods. Tiger's former caddie used to rip cameras out of the patrons hands and chuck them
in the lake even they distracted his gravy train. Quit, quiet, quiet, please!
Let's see, baseball players have to stand in the box against a guy throw 98-miles an hour with
filthy breaking pitches while fans are hurling insults at them and cranking up vuvazelas.
But golfers who have to put a ball in a target that never moves have to have total silence?
18-year old kids can step to the line in the NCAA championship for a crucial free-throw
and 5,000 morons behind the basket are screaming "noonan" and "you suck", but golfers
demand to play in an environment that's as quiet as a morgue?
NFL kickers have to try to nail a game-winning field goal with two seconds on the clock
with the entire stadium going nutso, but silver spoon-fed golfers can't make a three-foot putt
unless God turns down the volume down to nothing?
That's almost as ridiculous as Mickelson taking out his cell phone on the 6th fairway to call
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem to complain about the fans using their cell phones on
the golf course. That's beyond hilarious. It's like Tim Tebow doing a commercial telling people
to quit smoking and then as soon as the director says, "cut, that's a wrap," he lights up a
cigarette and goes on his merry way. OK, so that's little extreme, but you get my point.
This display by Mickelson is beyond ridiculous. It Tiger had complained like this, he would
have been booed for being a big crybaby. Mickelson won't feel that type of wrath because
he's a likable guy, for the most part. But come on, these golfers are getting bent out of shape
because of cell phones? LOL.
I respect golfers and the game, but seriously, it's time to man up and get some thick skin.
These mobile devices are the way of the world and there not going away. Commissioner
Finchem said they are here to stay for fan who go to events. If they take away cell phones,
the suits know that the fans will stay away as well.
Lefty, you are all wrong on this one.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
If Thomas Menino was a cartoon character, he'd be half-Barney Rubble and half-
Baby Huey. If he was a tool in the shed, the mayor of Boston wouldn't be sharp
enough to cut through a stick of butter sitting at room temperature for five hours. He
can butcher the English language with greater aplomb than Roger Clemens while making
Sarah Palin look like an expert in U.S. history. While the Rocket may "misremember" things
and the woman who went rogue whiffs on everything not jotted down on an index card,
Menino majors in malapropisms and mispronouncing things.
Yet, Menino enjoys high approval ratings and has been in office since 1993, making him
the longest sitting mayor in Boston history, and that's quite an accomplishment. He's
affectionately known as "Mayor Mumbles" because he talks like he has his grandkids
marbles in his mouth. And when he does talk, there' a good chance something
controversial or ridiculously funny comes spewing out.
He once described the shortage of parking in Boston as, "An Alcatraz around my neck."
Um, no Tom, that would be an "albatross" around your neck. He once referred to former
mayor John Collins as "a man of great statue" instead of stature. But that really pales in
comparison to how he messes up when it comes to Boston sports. Now, keep in mind
that in Boston, everybody loves sports more than politics and even their alcohol and in
that town, that's saying something. Red Sox fans know the astrological sign of the mother
of the back-up second baseman in Pawtucket. They are not only passionate fans, but
extremely knowledgeable ones.
Before the Red Sox met the Yankee in the 2004 playoffs, Menino said, "Much like a
cookie, I predict the Yankee dynasty will crumble and the results will be delicious for
Red Sox fans."
Menino once praised "Varitek for splitting the uprights" to give the Pats their first Super
Bowl title. Only, one problem, Varitek was catching for the Red Sox, while Adam Viniteri
was coming through for the Patriots. Menino also called NBA Commissioner David Stern,
"Donald Sterns" AF-LAAAAAAC!!!!!!
He has called Patriots receiver Wes Welker, "Wes Wekler" and tight end Rob Gronkowski,
But Menino's best/worst of Boston, may have come on Thursday morning when he was
talking about the Celtics great run in the post-season, "There's a lot of heart on this team,
let me tell you. K.J. is great...but Hondo's really the inspiration. I mean Hondo drives the
Does the mayor drive a Honda? Did he just have lunch with former Suns great, Kevin
Johnson, who is now the mayor of Sacramento? Perhaps, he was just thinking of Celtics
legend John "Hondo" Havlichek. I wonder if Menino still thinks the Big Three, Bird,
McHale, and Parrish are coming through that door
K.J instead of K.G, Hondo instead of Rajon Rondo. Man, it's all good. After all, it came
from the mouth of Mayor Menino, a lovable guy whom we can never get mad at for
screwing up the names of Boston sports legends.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
When my digital clock radio hit 4:00 a.m. and the sounds of The Clash rattled my brain like
a left-right combination from Floyd Mayweather, I could really do nothing but let out a primal
moan and play rope-a-dope with the largest pillows that Bed, Bath, & Beyond had to offer.
"Should I stay or should I go,
If I go there will be trouble, and If I stay it will be double...."
It would've been easy for me to stay in my cocoon of comfort with the sounds of that hit song
by The Clash in 1981 muffled by 6 inches of down feathers covering both of my ears. But I
paid $275 for the right swim 1.2 miles, bike 56, and then run 13.1 miles with about 1,100
other deranged people who thought that a heavy dose of pain and punishment was a good way
to spend the first Sunday in June.
"So you got to let me know,
Should I stay or should I go?"
I decided to make the 90 minute trek to Middlebury, Connecticut where the Rev3 half-
ironman triathlon was being held in the midst of an amusement park. Little did I know I'd
be going on one of most painful rides of my adult life, which has been all of about ten years.
I had done this race in 2010 and swore that I'd never come back. Biking malicious, steep hill
after steep hill seared my lungs and all but ripped the chicken off my chicken legs. Yet,
here I was at age 47 and weighing a less than svelte 240 lbs, back in spandex trying to
conquer this 70.3 mile beast.
I had gained 17 pounds since my last visit to Lake Quassapaug and my wetsuit didn't quit
fit me. It was akin to trying to put 240 pounds of sausage into a 220 pound bag or casing.
It just wasn't happening. I had tried to use the wetsuit during a swim at my club on the Friday
before the event, but had had difficulty breathing, so I decided that I was going to do the
1.2 mile swim at 7 a.m. in the chilly water without a wetsuit. Polar bear-style. Nothing but
those combo swim-bike-run shorts on. Whoa, you talk about major shrinkage! We're talking
George Costanza shrinkage.
I looked through the mass of humanity at the starting line and noticed that I was the only
person that didn't have a wetsuit. I think I frightened some people because my body is
Beluga whale-white. The only thing that might've been whiter was the face of Mets manager
Terry Collins when he saw Johan Santana's pitch count rise over 130 in his no-hitter last
Friday night. There could've been some shrinkage there, too.
Swimming in open water is like swimming in a blender. It's all choppy and there are legs,
feet, and arms everywhere, and a few usually hit you in the head at one time or another over
the course of the 1.2 miles that you're in the water. I finished in a time of 34.58, which ranked
182nd out of 1,066 "athletes". That was the strongest part of my triathlon...biking and running,
ah, not so much. It seemed like everyone I had beaten out of the water and those who
started a good 10 minutes after I did, passed me on the bike. I heard the warning, "on your left",
at least 500 times. The only people I went by were those fixing flat tires or fertilizing the
used to run anywhere in baseball, people would say, "Hey, Devlin, get the piano off your back."
At 240 pounds, now I feel like somebody hitched an 18-wheeler to my bicycle seat. I thought
event officials were going to put a red flag on me and attach a sign to me that said, "Wide Load."
On this picture-perfect day, my legs were moving, but I wasn't going anywhere very fast. Embarrassment reached its highest peak for me during the 56-mile bike ride when this little
old lady passed me on a very steep climb. Everyone has their age marked on their right calf,
and when I looked down to see the number "57", I just said muttered to myself, "Wow, isn't
that wonderful?" (I omitted what I really said because this is a family blog)
It seems like the only place I have trouble eating is on a bike. There is a right way to do it
and I just haven't figured it out yet. When you're covering 56-miles in three and a half-hours,
you burn some serious calories. The day before the event, I dropped by a sporting goods
store and bought everything that said energy shot on it. 5-hour energy, B-12 energy, Protein
energy. If they said energy, I was buying them and slugging them down during the race. The volunteers on the course provide you with more "energy" in the former of Gu shots. When
it gets warm and they melt, it seems like they turn into a pack of 12 salamanders who are
in a race to get to the bottom of your stomach for whatever it is that salamanders eat. It's
popping a tire, but also knowing there was trouble ahead for me. I still had to run 13.1
miles on a course that had some brutal hills. I had practiced running up some very big hills
in my hometown, trouble was, I just never did it after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56.
I tried to trick my mind into thinking I was strong and in shape for the final leg of the triathlon,
but my mind laughed at me and laughed at me real hard.
The first three miles were OK, then came the hills and the heat. I was cooked and almost
delirious. I had bonked and there were still 10.1 miles to go. That's not fun. I thought of people
who inspire me to help get me through, from my late father, to Brian Bill, the Navy SEAL
from Stamford who was killed in action last August, and to a triathlete from New York City
who literally got run over by a 40,000 lb bus and not only lived, but went on to complete
the Ironman in Hawaii.
There were times I felt like quitting, but they didn't last very long. I recalled a conversation I
had with Lou Marinelli, my former football coach, who asked me, "Aren't you too old to be
doing that stuff?", and just then a 59-year old man who was shredded like Terrell Owens ran
by me like I was standing still. You're never too old. For anything. No matter what. Events
like these are for challenging yourself and testing your limits. Was I in great shape for this
event? Absolutely, not. Did I prepare adequately for this half-ironman? My time of 6:52:38
was 26 minutes slower than the one I completed here in 2010, so the answer would be a
But it's not about the bike, the swim, the run, or the time it takes you to complete the race. It's
about finishing and the will to finish. I hadn't felt pain, punishment, or agony like that in a long,
long, time. But you know what? When I crossed that finish line, all that pain and agony actually
felt pretty good, even if it lasted for all of two seconds.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
AJ Burnett's most significant contribution during his time with the New York Yankees was
pie facing teammates during their "hero" post-game interviews on the field. He'd take a towel,
dispense a load of shaving/whipped cream on it, then sneak up on a teammate and wash his
face in it. Another great example of adolescent jockularity. It was funny at first, but like
everything else in this copycat world, the novelty of it wore off because every team in baseball
started to do it after every friggin' game. I might watch "The Departed" or "Shawshank
Redemption" over and over but having to witness millionaire ballplayers run around like
Little Leaguers (on steriods) is enough to make me go, "click". On Friday night, I wanted to
throw my clicker at the television screen because another idiotic, juvenile act of a player.
I had just watched the last three innings of Johan Santana's no-hitter, which made for great
theatre. Despite employing the likes of Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, and Dwight
Gooden, the New York Mets had never produced a no-hitter in more than 50 years and 8,000
games in their franchises history. Some dude named Dallas Braden of the Oakland A's can
throw a perfect game, but nobody in the pitching rich history of the Mets can author a no-hitter?
Santana was coming off major arm surgery and the Mets had him on a pitch count of between
110-115 pitches. He surpassed that number in the 7th inning and you could just about see
the cheeks of Mets manager Terry Collins pucker up with every pitch. He was entrusted by
the front office and the ownership group, who is paying Santana $20 million a year, to abide
by that pitch count. Collins was getting so tight, he'd have trouble squeezing a greased wire
through any orifice in his body. But do you think he wanted the entire world hating on him
for the rest of his life for taking Santana in the 8th inning of a no-hitter? Forget that.
Collins let Santana go for his moment and place in Mets history. If his arm blows out in two
weeks, oh, well, at least it'd be worth it if Santana completed the no-hitter. The left-hander
did just that when he struck out Cards third basemen David Freese with a disappearing 3-2
change-up. When you saw Santana shake off catcher Josh Thole just after he started his
wind-up, everybody pretty much knew what pitch was coming, but Freese could do nothing
but flail at it. And there it was, a no-hitter, the first in franchise history, and it was done
in front of the long-suffering Mets fans. It was a beautiful moment.
That moment got screwed up by Justin Turner, the Mets utility infielder with fire-engine
red hair, who obviously doesn't have a flair for the dramatic. He's the kind of guy who could
walk into the Playboy mansion and screw up a party with just him and 100 naked playmates.
The Human Buzz Kill. In the middle of Santana's on-field post-game interview, Turner
decides its time for a face full of whipped cream. Ugh, what an idiot. This was a no-hitter
and Johan Santana, not Anibel Sanchez. The man is a future Hall of Famer, not a journeyman
pitcher like Phil Humber.
Through the Redi-Whip facial, you could sense that Santana wasn't thrilled, but in the
big moment, he played along. Turner should be on the first bus to St. Paul, Minnesota
to play in the independent league. His post-game theatrics were strictly bush league.
That wasn't the time for it, and really, it's time to end these ridiculous post-game pie
face things. They are old, boring, and no longer funny.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Ever since my father died, I don't play golf very much anymore. In fact, I only play
once a year and when I do, I take just one swing and call it a day. One swing is all I need
to put a smile on my face and go home. No mulligans, no excuses, no do-overs. On May 17,
I hit one ball to honor my father who died on this day, and I do it early. Patrick J. Devlin
passed away at 6:37 a.m on May 17, 2008.
On the anniversary of his passing, I get up well before dawn and drive to the Westchester
Country Club in Harrison, New York. I make sure I allow for enough time for traffic, bad
weather, and other unpredictable things, like leaving my Big Bertha driver at home, which
I've done before. As long as I make it to the tee box at 6:37 a.m., all is good.
This first tee on the West course, which had been the home of a PGA tour event for more
than 40 years, was a special place for me and my Dad. It's where we started the countless
rounds of golf and shared truly incredible times together as father and son, but more importantly,
as best friends. As a kid who grew up with nothing on the south side of Chicago, my father
never played golf and never really spent a lot of time doing things with his Dad, who was
always working two jobs.
Playing golf with me became my father's favorite thing to do and as I grew older, it became
a special thing for me, as well. When my Dad showed up to the first tee, he was part
Rodney Dangerfield and part Arnold Palmer. He was a funny guy who loved to crack jokes
and bust the chops of the people in his foursome, including me. Caddies loved carrying my
father's bag because they knew they'd be in for an entertaining four and a half hours of golf.
He treated them as if they were one of his best friends, and they loved him for it. But after
my father teed off, he could be very competitive and intense. He was tossing clubs long
before Tiger Woods made it part of his game.
The first hole is a Par-4 and 308 yards long. Even when I was as young as 13, my father
would make me play from the back tees. Like hell if he was going to allow me from to hit
from the white tees because to him, they may as well have been the ladies. I drove the
green when I was 16 which made my Dad grin from ear to ear, and over the years, I could
pretty much get out of bed after a night on the town and drill the ball down the middle. I
couldn't explain it, there was just something special about that first hole.
After my father passed away four years ago, I wanted to do something to honor him in
a special way. I gave thought to organizing a tournament in his memory, but it just never
happened, perhaps because I was too selfish and just wanted to keep our golf memories
between him and me. Hitting a drive off the first tee at 6:37 a.m. felt like the perfect thing
to do, even if things would never always be perfect. Last year, there was a torrential
downpour that flooded the area. Staying in the comforts of my bed would've been easy,
but that was never really an option. My father never missed a day of work in his life, no
matter how sick he was, and he was always there for us, no matter what. I had to be there
By the time I walked the 500 yards from my car to the first tee, I was beyond soaked. The
sound of rain drilling the sidewalks and cart paths echoed throughout the club, but I was the
only one who could hear it. It seemed surreal and I felt like my Dad and I were walking side
by side as we made our way to the first tee. Even without practice or playing as infrequently
as I do, I always find a way to hit the ball straight down the middle, whether there is pouring
rain or brilliant sunshine. Everything seems so right when I'm on the tee on May 17 at 6:37
a.m. because I know that my father is watching over me just as he always did when he