When Ian Woosnam of Wales won the Masters Tournament yesterday, millions of golfers might have been asking what Turf Valley's Charley Brandt said aloud:
"What's going on? The Masters used to be won by Americans like Jack Nicklaus [six times], Arnold Palmer [four times], Ben Crenshaw, Larry Mize and Tom Watson. Now all of a sudden the Brits own this tournament."
True enough. Woosnam is now the fourth straight player from the British Isles to win the prestigious American event. Preceding him were Nick Faldo (1989 and '90) and Sandy Lyle (1988). Maybe this is payback for the British Opens that have been won by Americans such as Watson (four times).
* Remember how great the White Sox and their Opening Day pitcher, Jack McDowell, looked against the Orioles here last week?
Well, they're still looking great. The Chisox, who were rained out yesterday, are 4-0 and McDowell is 2-0 after his two-hit shutout of the Tigers Saturday. McDowell has an earned run average of 1.00 and 20 strikeouts. Chicago is going to be tough all year.
* The mystery of the college lacrosse season is Loyola, NCAA runner-up last year and picked by many to win it all this year. The Greyhounds (5-3) have lost two of their last three games (to Brown and Duke) and would have lost the third (to Towson State) had it not been for a great comeback. Now, with its next game at UMBC Saturday, Loyola is struggling just to make the 12-team NCAA tourney field.
The observer who told me yesterday that Loyola's problem is "too many players from schools like Overlea High and C. Milton Wright and not enough from Long Island and Central New York" is off target. Loyola's squad includes 23 players from Maryland and 21 from out of state, including 14 from New York.
* Was anyone really surprised when it was announced that the trade of Glenn Davis from Houston to Baltimore made the Orioles' payroll jump from lowest in the majors to second lowest and made the Astros' payroll the lowest? Davis is earning $3.275 million this season.
* Mount St. Mary's basketball coach Jim Phelan, speaking at J. Patrick's the other day, said: "I really miss the old rivalry with Loyola, playing them twice a year every year, home and home, always on Saturday nights before the biggest crowds of the year. Now with the schools in different conferences, if the Beltway Classic shuts down after this year, the Mount and
Loyola might not play at all."
Speaking of Phelan, who expects to have a good team in his 38th season at Emmitsburg, an interesting insight to his longevity comes from Frannie Bock, who officiated Jim's games for many years.
"During the game, Phelan was as fiery as any coach," said Bock, a basketballer who this year entered Loyola College's Hall of Fame. "He'd give the officials a hard time if he thought we'd missed a call. But as soon as the game was over he put it behind him. He'd come over and joke around with us. I think that's why he's still there."
* Maryland's two best-known horse races in their own categories -- the Preakness and the Maryland Hunt Cup -- are clamping down on young spectators. At the Preakness it now costs $2 for an infield patron (a.k.a. young person) every time he leaves the infield. At the Hunt Cup, buying a ticket has been made so complicated (to discourage rowdies) that officials are now worried about declining attendance.
I've attended Hunt Cups and I've spent Preakness Day in the infield, and I've been at Boardwalk and 9th in Ocean City on the Fourth of July. They're all about the same -- great if you're the right age. But it's the infield crowds that have pushed Preakness attendance toward 100,000, and when the Hunt Cup drew 15,000 spectators, kids accounted for two-thirds of it. Race officials have to decide whether they want the kids there or not. They can't have it both ways.
* Baseball leaders are easier on today's overpaid players than they were on the underpaid ones of yesteryear, as ex-Oriole minor league first baseman Bob Latshaw points out.
"I played for a manager named Burleigh Grimes at Toronto who told us games at the start of the season were as important as the ones at the end," Latshaw says. "He said a game won in April was one you might not have to win in September.
"But when the Orioles lost their first two games of this season and looked bad doing it all you heard from the manager and coaches was, 'Oh, there's still a long way to go.' I think Burleigh Grimes was right and these guys are wrong."