Monday, August 17, 2009

Y.E. Yang and Sweepless In Seattle

First we must bow (traditionally) to the man of the hour.

There are really so many reasons why Yang's victory was extremely cool. Here are a few:

1) Tiger Woods had never lost when leading the final round of a major (14-for-14).

2) No Asian-born player had ever won a major in men's golf.

3) Y.E. Yang himself had only won once on U.S. soil, at the Honda Classic.

4) Tiger's playing partner in majors, particularly on Sunday, usually shits himself, the bed, and anything else within defecatory distance.

On Saturday night, I called my stepfather and catalogued the various reasons, including the above, that Y.E. Yang might reasonably shoot an 80. I even proposed a bet to that effect. Read again: I seriously wanted to wager American dollars that a professional golfer would shoot an 80 or higher. Professionals usually only exceed that ugly score if they're really old, sick, or restricted to using various club-shaped implements that aren't actually clubs. And he wouldn't take the bet. Which was actually really stupid, in hindsight, okay, but you can at least imagine what anyone thought of Yang's chance to actually win the thing.

(Also, quick aside, but was it just me or did Y.E. Yang's name undergo a subtle change from Y.A. Yang at some point on Sunday? I'm almost positive this happened, and I kinda think CBS is trying to gaslight me.)

But win he did, and in a style so emphatic that it made Tiger look like someone Tiger was playing. The only lowlight I remember from Yang's round was a sort of cowardly long putt on 17, but his brilliant iron on the last hole (which will go down in history as an all-time clutch shot) more than made up for that timid error. Tiger took his foot off the gas in a big way on Saturday, and couldn't get anything to fall on Sunday, and it's nice to see that there was at least one professional in the world who had the balls to make him pay for sloppiness. Think about it...Tiger had a two-shot lead going into the last round, and if it wasn't for Yang, he would have won with a 75. And that's actually kinda typical. Yuck. Mr. Yang, the Wanamaker Trophy is yours. Enjoy it in whatever specific Korean way you deem appropriate.

(Quick aside #2: In the tired, overcooked class of jokes that following the "______ her? I don't even know her!" formula, 'Wanamaker' might be the shot of fresh blood that revives the dying genre and extend its life as a viable humor staple.

Wanamaker? I don't even know her!)

Which leads us to the absolute best thing about Yang's win. As everyone and their media mother have iterated ad nauseam, there's zero way to measure how huge this championship will be for golf in the Asian world. All you can really imagine is that in fifteen to twenty years, another player from Korea or Japan or Thailand or China or wherever will be leading on Saturday night at Augusta, and when a reporter in the clubhouse asks him how he got started in golf, the player will say: "I was a kid, and it was right after Y.E. Yang beat Tiger Woods at the PGA in 2009."

And that's just cool.

Changing directions, the Yanks had a nice weekend that ended in a kind-of-embarrassing but not really signficant way with Sunday's rout (leading to the hilarious second half of today's blog title). The weekend just proves some things we already knew.

1) The Yankees are really good.
2) We're almost definitely going to make the playoffs.
3) Seattle has a pretty poor offense, except for
4) Ichiro Suzuki, who is officially a robot constructed by genius engineers for the specific purpose of being amazing at baseball.
5) Joba Chamberlain doesn't have the brain to be a reliable starting pitcher, at least this year.

#5 is really irksome. It's honestly like watching that emotionally troubled kid we all knew in Little League, who could throw like 10mph faster than anyone else, but if he gave up a hit or a walk would just totally implode, working too fast, walking everyone, yelling at the coach or any other player who tried to calm him down, and visibly blaming everyone but himself. By sophomore year of high school, this person had given up sports in favor of spending whole days by the tree just off school grounds where the losers smoked, and grabbing his crotch and yelling something awful and possibly damaging in an emotional way whenever a good looking girl passed by.

Still, I hope for good things. Whatever else, he's wickedly talented.

(Part 2 of the Prospect Cup narrative comes tomorrow.)

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