The Beauty of Golf

By: Joel Norman

Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, once called the game of golf a good walk spoiled.

Many people operate under this belief and constantly find themselves frustrated with the difficulties that the game presents. I was no exception, until recently.

Whether it is school, work, or both, everyone has something that they spend the bulk of their day doing. Life will get rather monotonous and repetitive if this strict schedule is adhered to week after week.

This summer, I began working a full time job for the first time in addition to adding a couple part time jobs and a summer class. While I have enjoyed a fixed and consistent schedule, the ability to spend an entire day doing exactly what I choose has disintegrated.

This is simply a part of growing up, but it is important to find ways to pass the time as we choose. Every Monday this summer I have gone golfing as simply a way to catch up with my friend and fellow Sports Heaven writer, Tyler. Through something as simple as this once-a-week event, I have discovered the importance of golf in my life.

If I can spend three hours a day frustrated over hitting a ball into a ball, then I am glad. In the grand scheme of things, golf is irrelevant. If I cannot par a single hole, then my world is not destroyed (however the same cannot be said for my handicap).

Life is full of distractions, good and bad. Golf is a constructive distraction in my life because I do not have to stress over my finances or education. With respect to Mr. Clemens, golf is actually just a good walk that doesn't last long enough.

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Like our articles? Follow us on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter! We also have a mailing list that will help you stay up to date with all articles and videos that we publish! Thanks for reading this article!

MLB Pretenders

By: Sam Kluender

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers, who have made the playoffs the past four years going to the American League Championship Series twice and the World Series once, are on the verge of missing the playoffs this year and their front office knows it. The Tigers are currently four games out of a Wild Card spot, but 10.5 games back from the division lead. With the Kansas City Royals surging, it is nearly impossible to win the division but only four games out of a Wild Card berth definitely makes them competitive. Manager Brad Ausmus recently held a team meeting with regards to their current situation and said the team is not giving up hope. However, the outlook isn’t very good. So far this season the Tigers offense has been great. They rank second in runs, first in batting average and On Base Percentage. Their offense is what has kept them hovering around .500 so far. Their pitching is a polar opposite. Their team ERA is 4.40 which is 27th in MLB and other stats like Batting Average Against and Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched are also just as bad. It’s not likely the pitching will get better, in fact, it could get even worse. Justin Verlander has continued to play worse and worse and if the trade rumors are true, their one quality starter, David Price, may be on his way out. Combine that rumor with the rumor that the Tigers are shopping outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and it seems like their front office knows this team isn’t good enough this year. This is all without considering that fact that first baseman Miguel Cabrera, the centerpiece of their offense, is out for upwards to 6 weeks with a calf strain which will put a dent in their one solid area of their game.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins have surprised many people so far this year with how well they are playing. They are currently 50-43, 6.5 games back from the Royals in the AL Central and currently holding the second Wild Card spot in the AL. This is a huge turnaround from a team who when 70-92 last year and had the fourth worst record in MLB. These types of turnarounds are usually flukes and it’s looking more like that by the day. Their record is where it is thanks largely to the month of May when they went 20-7. The team stats for the Twin’s don’t really match their record. Their team is more set up as a mediocre team probably slightly below .500. They have no stars on their team and apart from Dozier, there really is no one in their starting lineup that is above average at their position. They have no depth either so injuries to Dozier or Mauer would be devastating. Torii Hunter has been a large part of their offense and at age 40, it’s quite possible he doesn’t play as well late in the season. If the Twins were to sneak into the playoffs, they would most likely be crushed by whomever they would play. Apart from Kyle Gibson who is having the best year of his career, their pitching is very mediocre and would have the disadvantage in almost any matchup. Minnesota has a bunch of really good prospects, but until they can come up and make an impact, they don’t have a team that will be able to last the rest of the season. Either their many injury prone players will get hurt or their winning percentage will regress back to what their statistics say it should be.

New York Mets

The Mets are in a pretty good place right now all things considered. They are 49-46 and are three games back of the Nationals in the NL East and 2.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. The Mets are basically the opposite of the Tigers. New York has one of the best pitching staffs in baseball yet the worst offense. Many people say pitching wins championships and that very well may be true, however those teams still have to score some runs to win the ball games. The only star in that offense is David Wright and he is hurt and maybe not play again this season. Their best month this season was in April back when Wright was playing and they went 15-8 and scored the most runs out of any month so far. In May and June their run totals decreased and along with it so did their winning percentage. It’s very hard to predict what a team will do in the trade deadline, but if the Mets don’t pick up a good hitter, their pitching won’t be able to keep winning them so many games. The Mets hold an unusual statistic: they have won more games this year when their offense has scored four runs or less than when they have scored five runs or more. New York has some phenomenal pitchers, but it’s likely they too will regress slightly. Jacob deGrom has a 2.18 ERA, but a 2.95 xFIP. xFIP takes into consideration defensive and park averages and helps show how good a pitcher is really playing. In fact, all of their starting pitchers, minus Bartolo Colon, has a higher xFIP than their ERA.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves are in striking distance of a Wild Card spot being 6.5 games back at the moment. Atlanta was .500 right before the All Star Break but lost five straight to finish up the first half of the season. Typically there is a pretty strong correlation between a team’s run differential and their winning percentage. Usually the best teams have the highest run differential, which makes sense. The Braves run differential is -42 which is far worse than the teams they are close to in the standings. This means that the Braves are winning a lot of close games and losing others by much larger margins. This may make more sense if a team had a fantastic bullpen, but this isn’t the case for the Braves. As a team their bullpen ERA is 27th in MLB at 4.24. That’s also considering Jason Grilli, who was one of their best relief arms until he recently tore his Achilles and will miss the rest of the season. Their offense is also below average as well. Their 363 runs this season is 22nd in MLB and they aren’t hitting for power ranking 27th in slugging. The Braves don’t have an area of the game where they are really good at to help win games. They are also being hit with a nasty injury bug which has also landed star first baseman Freddie Freeman on the DL. 

Open Championship Recap

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

By: Matt Goss

St. Andrews, the home of golf, has been host to numerous Open Championships throughout history. Yesterday the 115th Open Championship concluded and crowned a new winner in a nail-biting and exciting race for the Claret Jug. Zach Johnson emerged victorious in a four hole playoff over fellow competitors Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman. Oosthuizen had a putt on 18 to extend the playoff into sudden death but nonetheless missed it putting Zach Johnson out on top to conclude this Open.

Johnson had a very crazy finish en route to his victory. He made a fantastic birdie on 18 on his last hole of the tournament to post the lowest score in the clubhouse at -15. His fist pump and energetic composure said it all as that was the score to beat. Leishman was the only player to reach -16 for the entire championship but finished bogey then par to tie Johnson at -15. Oosthuizen made a great birdie on 18 to also get him into a playoff. It was a memorable playoff as Johnson played the four playoff holes one under par, good enough to secure him the Claret Jug.

Jordan Spieth played some good golf and almost made history by winning the third leg of the Grand Slam. A costly bogey on 17, on top of the double bogey he made earlier in the round, could have been the nail in the coffin for his record breaking charge. He had to birdie 18 to get into a playoff and hit a great shot that just spun a little too much for his liking putting him into the valley of sins. A good effort was made by Spieth to knock it in but it was a very difficult putt to read as he left it just left of the hole. Although Spieth finished one back, this tournament reassured everyone how good this kid is and how he can hang with anyone at any venue. There is no doubt he will win many majors.

Dustin Johnson was a big favorite coming in, especially after leading 36 holes in. “DJ” was striking the ball and putting well, posting -10 in the first two days. Johnson, however fell apart posting +6 the last two days to put him well off the top leaders. What happened to Johnson is unknown as the last two days were definitely good scoring days. Johnson was one of the only players in the field to shoot over par in the third round. Find that hard to believe given how well he played the first two days. Jason Day was also a contender the entire tournament. He ended at -14 as he could not get himself to -15. Day is looking for his first major and St. Andrews was a great opportunity for him to do so. He is a great player and many have faith that he will win one soon.

It is always magical when a tournament of such magnitude comes to the birthplace of golf. It becomes more than a tournament, it becomes a tale. Zach Johnson’s story will live in the lore of golf for many years, and deservedly so. Johnson battled through the rain, the win, and the competition to win his second major. St. Andrews always yields great winners, and this year was no exception.

Five Unbreakable MLB Records

By: Sam Kluender

#1 Cy Young’s career wins, losses, and complete games

These records are most likely the most unbreakable in MLB because the way the game is played has changed since Cy Young took the field back when baseball was still young. Young holds the MLB record for wins with 511, losses with 316, and complete games with 749. These record just aren’t feasible anymore given the five man rotation in baseball. Last year, the most games started by a single pitcher was 34. To break the wins record that pitcher would have to start 34 games for over 15 seasons and win every single game. Not only that but that same pitcher would have to play for another seven years at the same rate and complete every game to break Young’s complete game record.

#2 Cal Ripken, Jr’s 2,632 consecutive games played

Similarly to Young’s records, this record maybe never be broken either based on how the game has changed. At the same time, it also took an unprecedented player who could play for so long without injury or playing through injury. Lou Gehrig is second on the list at 2,130 and Everett Scott, who is third, does not even have half the games Ripken does. In modern baseball, managers and trainers are much more worried about injuries that it would have to take a player being healthy his entire career to come close to this record. Even the slightest injuries or discomfort seems to put a player on the bench and that’s not even considering scheduled “off days” that most players are given throughout the course of a season.

#3 Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts

This record may never be broken not as a result of changes in the game but instead because of the unbelievable longevity and dominance shown by Nolan Ryan in his 27 year career. Included in his strikeout record is his record for most seasons played as a pitcher at 27 years. Nolan Ryan was a one of a kind pitcher whom we may never see the likes of again. Ryan lead the MLB in strikeouts eleven seasons with a handful of seasons with strikeout totals in the 300’s. The last time a pitcher has thrown over 300 strikeouts in a season was Randy Johnson in 2002. As pitchers continue to dominate more and more each year, the number of strikeouts aren’t increasing. Part of this could be the increase in arm injuries and changes in styles of pitching which may contribute to this record never being broken.

#4 Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak

Since Joe DiMaggio played his 56th consecutive games with a hit, no one has really come close to threatening DiMaggio’s record. DiMaggio broke Willie Keeler’s record of 45 consecutive games with a hit which was set in 1897. Not only has no one come close to DiMaggio’s record, no one has broken Keeler’s old record. The all-time hits leader Pete Rose couldn’t even do it, coming one game shy of 45. To be able to break this record, not only does someone have to be amazing at hitting, but also very aggressive. If the player is down to his last at bat without a hit and he takes a walk, it’s over.

#5 Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 career stolen bases

MLB has never seen a player like Rickey before and may never see one again. The Hall of Famer’s 1,406 career stolen bases is 468 more than the second most held by Lou Brock. He’s the only player in MLB history to steal over 1000 bases. A large part of the reason he was able to break this record was the fact that he played 25 seasons. Even toward the end of his career, Henderson was still one of the fastest players in the MLB, stealing a league leading 66 stolen bases in his age 39 season. What also allowed him so many opportunities to steal was his elite on base numbers. His batting average isn’t anything amazing, but all the matters when it comes to stealing bases is being on base and he did that at a .401 career clip. The only player right now who possesses the base running skills to potentially break this record is Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds, however unlike Henderson, Hamilton is half of the hitter that Henderson was. 

2015 Open Championship

By: Matt Goss

We are a few days from this year’s Open Championship, also known as the British Open to some. This year it is being hosted at the home of golf, St. Andrews, Scotland. This famous, historic golf course has been home to many great champions over the decades and surely will give us another one this Sunday. There are many storylines to follow within this densely skilled field. Who will prevail in the third major of the year and secure the Claret Jug? Here are the major stories the surround this year’s Open Championship.

Tom Watson

Watson will compete in his last Open Championship. He has stated that he expects to shed some tears on the Swilcan Bridge during his final round on this historic course. Watson has won the Open Championship five times, an astonishing number. He will attempt to put together some good rounds this week but he may be too old to make a run. Nonetheless it is a great end to a great career.

Tiger Woods

Woods has had obvious struggles as of late. He hit his trough during the U.S. Open when he shot 85. He is in a huge slump in his career and many think he will not win another major as he is getting older and running out of time. Despite all of this, Woods is one of two players in the modern era to win two Open Championships at St. Andrews. He has won here and he knows how to win here and because of that, Woods could come out and surprise us all.

Rickie Fowler

Fowler has played very well in major championships, he has just not been able to win one. This could be his week. He is good enough and people want to see him win. St. Andrews would be a great place to win your first championship and this could be the week Fowler does it. He came out victorious this previous weekend in the Scottish Open. That was a smart move by Fowler to go and compete and the fact that he won shows his game is suited to win at a course such as St. Andrews. This young golfer could finally pull through this weekend and get the major victory that he so covets.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson is getting old but he still has some left in the tank. He pulled off a miracle Open win a few years ago to win this great tournament for the first time. Mickelson is surrounded by controversy over a money-wiring scheme and this week he has the chance to respond to these claims by pulling off a win. Mickelson still has the game to win and his short game can win him any tournament.

Jordan Spieth

Spieth has won this year’s first two majors. He is 21 years old and already has two major championships under his belt. He is a fantastic golfer. He is chasing the grand slam this year and a win at St. Andrews will put him 3/4ths of the way there. Spieth just won the John Deere Classic in playoff fashion to allow him to come into the Open in the driver’s seat. He is young but he is mature enough to play St. Andrews well. Not many would be surprised by a Spieth win, at this point it is somewhat expected.

There are many great stories surrounding this Open. I predict the winner to be Jordan Spieth. He is too unflappable and too good right now to lose easily. I see him overcoming St. Andrews and coming out on top.

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