"The Stack" 7-24-17

The Stack is back on this Monday and if you didn’t get a chance to read Friday’s blog, here’s the link to it. I understand there was some trouble getting it posted online on Facebook and the Twitter machine. My apologies. NFL training camps are opening up this week, but we aren’t here to talk about the NFL. Not yet anyway. Let’s see what’s all in “the stack” for today, Monday, July 24th:

Spieth wins The Open Championship

Jordan Spieth was playing absolutely tremendous golf the first three rounds of the 146th Open Championship from Royal Birkdale. His ball striking was sound. His putting was stellar (as it normally is) and Spieth was in control. We have seen before though that Spieth tends to have final round jitters and demons (just look at Augusta as an example). None of the final groups going off in front of Spieth and Matt Kuchar were having a great deal of success. Almost everyone was missing putts. They would come up short or lip out. Hideki Matsuyama’s first tee shot went out of bounds and he ended up getting a triple bogey on the hole. The final pairing of Spieth and Kuchar set out then and right from the get go it wasn’t the prettiest for Spieth. He bogeyed one. He bogeyed two. He bogeyed four. He gave up three strokes in the first four holes and found himself tied with Kuchar. Spieth steadied the ship a bit after that birdieing five before making bogey on nine. The back nine though is where it truly went bonkers. Spieth’s putting was anything but his saving grace on the front nine. He missed numerous short putts that he probably makes in his sleep or for sure in any of the first three rounds. His accuracy was off. His ball striking was off. Was this another crapping of the bed performance in the final round?

Both Spieth and Kuchar walked up to the thirteenth tee and Spieth’s tee shot went so far right, maybe 100 yards or so, that Johnny Miller on the NBC telecast said he didn’t think he had ever seen a player hit as bad a drive as Spieth did. After some 15 or 20 minutes, Spieth took an unplayable lie and had to drop it on the same line that he took the unplayable line and hit from the practice ground. It took a while to figure out what he wanted to do and talk about the rules, but finally once he hit, his iron shot nearly got to the green. He somehow saved bogey on the hole and fell just one shot back of Kuchar who missed his birdie putt and made par.

That whole sequence for Spieth must have given him confidence though that he could go through all that he did on the 13th and only get bogey, because a fire was lit under him after that. He was locked in. He nearly aced his tee shot on the par 3 14th and made birdie. Kuchar made par. His drive was exactly what he wanted on the par 5 15th and his second shot, a 3-wood was money. He had a long eagle putt and he drained it. Kuchar made birdie, but just like that he found himself one shot back. The 16th hole? Spieth once again made a long birdie putt. The 17th hole? Same result, a birdie. Kuchar made birdie on 17 as well and had to go for it on 18, but his second shot went in a pot bunker and he made bogey. Spieth made par. So let’s go back to after he made bogey on the 13th. He went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, par. When he is in a zone no one can beat him. He won the Open Championship with a total score of twelve unde r (-12) and won by three over Kuchar, but this was one of the most compelling and entertaining final rounds of golf you will ever watch. Last year was good with Henrik Stenson and I believe it was Phil Mickelson dueling shot for shot. This was better. Kuchar seemed resigned to the fact that no matter how well he was playing (and he was playing very well), once Spieth was in the zone there was no stopping him. It was unbelievable. Congrats to Spieth. He exercised the final round demons. He’s won three legs of the career grand slam before the age of 24. This is one special dude and he is going to win many more majors before it is all said and done. What a great tournament and what a phenomenal Sunday.

Kyrie Irving demands trade

The NBA world was rocked with some news on Friday that Kyrie Irving has demanded a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made the request a couple of weeks ago. Irving wants to the guy. He doesn’t want to play second fiddle to LeBron James. He doesn't want to play alongside James anymore. He doesn't like him. James is said to have been blindsided by the request.

This puts the Cavaliers in a precarious situation. Do they trade Irving or just stand pat? James has given them no indication what he is going to do after next season when he can become a free agent, but he has not been happy with what the Cavs have done this offseason to get better and try to take down the Golden State Warriors. Most people see him leaving for Los Angeles for either the Lakers or Clippers. If James leaves, will Irving be happy since the Cavs would be his team and would he stay or is the damage unrepairable? If it sounds like Irving is being a bit of a deva, it is because he is being one. Oh man, this isn’t my team because LeBron came back here? Boo hoo hoo.

The San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves (yes the Timberwolves) are all potential landing spots for Irving. The Knicks would stand to make the most sense because they could trade Carmelo Anthony and first round picks to the Cavs for Irving, but the Spurs and Timberwolves also present unique situations and landing spots for Irving. I don’t know how it’s all going to unfold, but it’s quite possible that we have seen the last of LeBron and Kyrie playing together which would mean we may have seen the last of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kershaw, Strasburg both injured Sunday

Two of the best pitchers in the game left their respective games on Sundays early in the contest that should have their fan bases concerned. Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg left after two innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks with arm stiffness. It does not sound like it is too serious, but Strasburg has a history of injuries throughout his career. You don’t want this to lead to something else so maybe the Nationals hold him out a start or too or maybe he does land on the DL for a brief stint.

The injury to Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is a little more concerning. He lasted just one inning and exited Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves with back tightness. He will likely go on the DL. This may be more precautionary than anything for the Dodgers who have the best record in baseball. They want Kershaw to be ready for the postseason run, but with this injury, you never know if it will lead to anything else. This means now that the Dodgers could be more likely to try and get Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics or Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers. Not a good day for star pitchers in baseball.

Coming up Tuesday: Reaction to top stories and headlines in the sports.