THE BULLETIN • Friday, July 8, 2011 D5
BASEBALL C O M M E N TA RY
The umpire strikes back, and back, and back again
Local women honored by UO
By Jim Litke The Associated Press
If you tune into baseball games to see the umpire strike back, the All-Star break couldn’t come at a worse time. July is already shaping up as one of the best months ever for ejections. Since the calendar turned over, 17 players, managers and coaches have been sent to cool off early, the same number that were tossed during the first weeks of April, May and June combined. The early leader in the clubhouse for best exit was Blue Jays pitcher Jon Rauch, who got a jump on things by shedding his jersey and hat even before stalking off toward the stalls. Then Tigers manager Jim Leyland did Rauch one better. Leyland was still standing in the dugout when he got tossed for the second time in nine days, shortening his trip to the showers to a matter of steps. “Like I said after that one, something is going on,” Leyland said Thursday. “It’s just not good when there’s that much tension around.” Even with another day to think things over, Leyland hasn’t figured out what’s causing all the pile-ups between the umps and players, managers and coaches. “In no way, shape or form am I blaming the umps. I want to be clear about that,” Leyland said in a phone call from Kansas City, where his Tigers were preparing to play the Royals. “We’ve all got to do better, especially with what happens right after a call somebody doesn’t like is made. For the good of the game, everybody needs to relax a little bit.” Blame it on rising temperatures, the replay videos available at every turn, a handful of Triple-A call-ups filling out the umpiring crews as vacation relief or the mounting frustration some clubs express as their spring-training dreams circle the drain even before the season hits the midway point. Then again, as Angels manager Mike Scioscia suggested the other day, maybe it’s just “cyclical.” “I haven’t noticed anything that would point to it being anything but random,” he said. So far, Scioscia’s guess is as good as any other. According to MLB figures, 93 players, managers and coaches were ejected this season through June 30, less than the average of 102 over the same time period for the past half-dozen seasons. The totals have ranged between a low of 78 and a high of 116. “You’re never going to figure it out. And maybe if the umps got it right once in a while,” chuckled Hall of Famer and former manager Earl Weaver, “you wouldn’t be having all these problems.” Weaver acknowledged a moment later that he’s hardly impartial. He’s third on the managers’ list of all-time ejections with 97, trailing only Bobby Cox (131) and John McGraw (117). Weaver also watches only two dozen or so games a season from his home in Pembroke Pines, Fla., but he does have a theory. “Umps are human beings and they have to take a lot of guff, so to some extent, they’ve always been like that,” he said. “But from what I see, more and more they’re taking exception to just about everything. I had plenty of run-ins, but it seems like the old guys were more secure about the job. It’s almost like the newer guys are being taught how to be mean in ump school or something.” Increased use of instant replay might ease the tension, but current rules allow it only on homerun calls, and there’s no chance of that being expanded anytime soon. But even if a decision to expand the use of instant replay was made, it would require amending the collective bargaining agreement. “I think you could expand it, but to what degree, I don’t honestly know,” Leyland said. “I do not want to take human element out of the game, especially since we ought to be amazed how many times those guys are right.” Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bulletin staff report
Mark J. Terrill / The Associated Press
Cristie Kerr watches her chip shot to the green on the 13th hole during the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open at the Broadmoor Golf Club, Thursday in Colorado Springs, Colo. Kerr is tied for the lead.
Kerr, amateur lead when storms stop U.S. Open play By Eddie Pells The Associated Press
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Instead of teeing it up when she comes back to the Broadmoor, Cristie Kerr’s next shot at the U.S. Women’s Open will be a blast out of the bunker on the front, right side of the seventh green. A difficult shot. But it could be worse. A quirky day of thunder and lightning — but only spits of rain — suspended play Thursday with only 25 players finished with their first round. It was a bad break on the opening day of the toughest test in golf — balky weather that figures to turn one of the most difficult weeks on the schedule into an even bigger grind. “That’s part of the gamble,” said Christina Kim, who will try to squeeze in 36 holes today. The rain halted a mini streak for Kerr, who had made two straight birdies to get into a tie for the lead at 2-under par with amateur Amy Anderson. After her second birdie, Kerr, who opened her round on the back, teed off into the right rough on No. 7, then hit her approach into the sand. That’s when the siren sounded and the players headed to the clubhouse. “At least I’ll get to practice some long bunker shots before we go out, so maybe it’s a good thing for me,” she said. Everything was relative on this day. After halting play, the USGA kept the players in the clubhouse for 2 1⁄2 hours, but with the thunder still rumbling and the radar blinking red, officials called play. There were 75 players on the course and 66 who hadn’t hit a shot. That means nearly half the field, including defending champion Paula Creamer and Yani Tseng, trying to complete her career Grand Slam, could face 72 holes packed into three days of action on a typically rough U.S. Open setup. The Broadmoor is the first course to measure more than 7,000 yards for the U.S. Women’s Open — quite a haul, even at 6,700 feet in altitude. “We were actually sitting here debating, what’s the better draw?” Kim said. “Is it the one we have and we try to get 36 in in one day, or the one where you have 19 hours between shots in the
same round?” Sarah-Jane Smith of Australia falls into the latter category, but only barely. After hearing her name announced on the first tee box, Smith striped her first shot down the middle of the fairway and started walking. Suddenly, the sirens blared and she made a U-turn back to the clubhouse. “I’ve not teed off at all before,” she said. “But I’ve never hit one, then walked straight back in. I’m looking forward to it.” Then, pointing to her husband and caddie, Duane, she said, “He should have the yardage figured out by tomorrow morning.” For the record, Duane Smith says it will be a 150-yard shot when play resumes at 7:45 a.m. local time Friday. And while Smith is sleeping on one good shot, Anderson will join Kerr in sleeping on the lead. The second-team All-American from North Dakota State hit her approach on the par-5 ninth to tap-in range for her second birdie of the day. That put her at 2 under. “The first-day leader,” she said. “That’s way more than I could have imagined.” She needs to hold onto the lead for six more holes to make it official. The only other players under par when play was suspended were Inbee Park (through 17), Ai Miyazato (15) and Silvia Cavalleri, who birdied No. 1 moments before weather halted play. The best score posted among the 25 players who had finished belonged to Kristy McPherson, who shot 2-over 73. That was one shot ahead of Aree Song and Juli Inkster. Before the clouds rolled in, Inkster stood for about five minutes on the fairway of the par-5, 17th hole, waiting for the green to clear before she tried a 250-yard approach shot on a hole that had been unreachable during the practice rounds. The shot came up about 20 yards short and Inkster settled for par; this was what sufficed for drama on an incomplete day at the Broadmoor. “It’s nice” to be done, Inkster said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been on the good side of the switch. It’s going to be a long day for them.” Sure is.
Typical of the U.S. Open, rounds were averaging more than five hours, which is why some of the players were surprised the USGA didn’t wait a little longer before calling play for the day. They’ll need perfect weather the rest of the week to close out this tournament on Sunday. Kerr, who was scheduled to play her second round this afternoon, said she did the math and figured it’s unlikely she’ll even get it started by then. “It’s golf,” Kerr said. “Especially at the U.S. Open, you have to have your patience game be your ‘A’ game.” Also on Thursday: Late run sents Blanks to Deere Classic lead SILVIS, Ill. — Kris Blanks birdied his final five holes to finish with an 8under-par 63 and grab the first-round lead at the John Deere Classic. Blanks, who played the back nine first, rolled in a 25-foot putt on No. 5 to start his late run and capped it with an 11-footer to leave him alone at the top after Canadian rookie Matt McQuillan and veteran Davis Love III had held that spot much of the day with 64s. Another late starter, Steve Marino, also came in with a 64. Mark Wilson, who has won twice on the tour this year, and Kyle Stanley were another stroke back, while Steve Stricker, seeking his third straight title in the tournament, was part of a large group at 66. Westwood, Tullo share lead at Scottish Open INVERNESS, Scotland — Lee Westwood and tour newcomer Mark Tullo of Chile shot 7-under 65s to share the lead after the first round of the Scottish Open. Westwood made six birdies and an eagle in the warmup event before next week’s British Open. A bogey at the 16th hole was his only setback. With a win at the new links course at Castle Stuart, the second-ranked Westwood would regain the No. 1 ranking held by fellow Englishman Luke Donald. Tullo, ranked No. 232 and in his first season on the European Tour, birdied his first four holes and then five of the back nine to join Westwood atop the leaderboard. ALWAYS STIRRING UP SOMETHING GOOD Serving Central Oregon Since 1975
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CYCLING: TOUR DE FRANCE
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Favorites take no risks at rain-lashed Tour By Jerome Pugmire The Associated Press
LISIEUX, France — Alberto Contador knew it made little sense to take risks on a day when blinding, torrential rain lashed riders in the Tour de France. The 141-mile course Thursday — the sixth and longest stage in the three-week race — made for a dangerous trip. And the field was fortunate to avoid a major crash, a day after riders went tumbling everywhere. “It was another nervous stage and because of the rain I virtually couldn’t see anything,” said Contador, the defending champion and three-time Tour winner who crashed Wednesday. “At the end of the stage I was moving to the very front of the pack, simply to avoid accidents, and not because I wanted to attack.” Contador and his Tour rivals, such as two-time runners-up Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck, played it safe as Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway led a sprint to capture his first stage on the Tour. He finished in 5 hours, 13
minutes, 37 seconds. “I really surprised myself,” Hagen said. “Lots of people say that I’m a talented guy, so it’s nice to show it by winning a stage.” Matt Goss of Australia was second and overall race leader Thor Hushovd was third, giving Norway the distinction of having the stage winner and yellow jersey holder on the same day. Referring to his compatriot Hushovd, who has twice taken home the Tour’s green jersey awarded to the best sprinter, Hagen said: “I want to be as good as him — or better.” Philippe Gilbert of Belgium, who won Saturday’s first stage, said “everyone was a bit out of breath” and that Hagen “devoured the last 150 meters — he’s impossible to catch when he’s like that.” Hushovd was pleased with his country’s success on Thursday. “Not bad, after all — it’s a good day for Norway,” said the Garmin-Cervelo veteran, who retained the yellow jersey for a fifth consecutive day. As for Hagen, he said: “Clearly he’s got a
big future.” Moving fairly close to the front meant relative safety for Contador, Schleck and Evans. They all were part of the first 50 of the 197 riders who completed the stage. “Yesterday wind, today rain. ... Luckily, there seemed to be some kind of understanding within the peloton not to take too many risks today,” Schleck said. “As if all the teams had suffered enough crashes yesterday.” Evans kept second overall. The Australian is one second behind Hushovd, while Schleck is 12 seconds behind in 10th.
Contador is 1:42 off the lead in 34th place. A rider would have encountered untold trouble if caught behind the peloton in a dominolike crash on the treacherous, narrow roads snaking toward Normandy. Wind made things even more hazardous, as fans watched, soaked to the skin in kinship with the riders. “In the last few kilometers I was thinking only about not falling because it was a dangerous course,” Contador said. “At the end of the stage I got to the front of the peloton not to lose time, to avoid problems.”
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EUGENE — Former Mountain View girls soccer coach Robin Lee Gyorgyfalvy and Bulletin freelance writer Penny Nakamura, both Bend residents, were honored at the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena for their achievements in women’s athletics. Lee Gyorgyfalvy was awarded a varsity letter for playing collegiate women’s soccer for the Ducks in 1976, 1977 and 1978. Nakamura received a varsity letter for women’s swimming in 1981. Approximately 250 women were honored at the event, which sought to formally recognize women who competed at UO before 1982. From 1940 to 1981 women competed in multiple intercollegiate sports for the Ducks, but were not awarded letters. Buffs hire new football coach MADRAS — Former Madras High football assistant Rick Wells has been named the White Buffaloes’ head varsity coach. Wells, 37, who was an assistant at Madras High the past two seasons, takes over for Clyde Powell, who guided the Buffaloes’ varsity program the past two years. Madras went 2-6 last season and finished tied for fifth in the Tri-Valley Conference with a 1-4 mark. Osborne takes over Madras girls soccer MADRAS — Mike Osborne, the former Madras and Redmond high school girls basketball coach, has been selected as the new Madras High girls soccer coach for the upcoming season. Osborne, who guided the White Buffaloes to the 2003 Class 3A girls state basketball championship, replaces Debbie Taylor. Madras, which has not won a game since 2008, has compiled a record of 4-33-3 over the past three seasons. Rimrock volleyball places 10th at national tourney ATLANTA — The Rimrock Nationals, an 18-yearsold-and-younger volleyball club made up of players from Crook County, Sisters, Mountain View and Summit high schools, finished 10th at the United States Volleyball Association Junior National Championships last weekend. Rimrock went 3-3 in pool play before going 2-1 in the Silver bracket.
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The Bulletin Daily print edition for Friday July 8, 2011