1. Fan rats out Lexi Thompson; costs her win
If you’ve ever felt that crushing helplessness while watching your favorite team or athlete lose on TV, knowing there’s nothing you can do to help, perhaps you’d be interested in becoming a fan of golf? As the LPGA showed over the weekend, any viewer with a PVR and too much time on their hands can directly impact who wins.
On Sunday of the ANA Inspiration, a viewer emailed officials to notify them that, a day prior, leader Lexi Thompson had marked a ball on the green, then placed it about an inch out of position. The rules officials reviewed the tape, agreed with this random person, and addressed Thompson a two-stroke penalty for moving her ball and a two-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. Thompson had been up three strokes on the 13th hole when she found out and eventually lost in a playoff. (Talk about a bad beat.)
The public backlash towards the USGA has been swift and brutal. The Association faced a similar reaction last summer when they mishandled a ball-movement penalty on Dustin Johnson in the U.S. Open; that led to a change of the rules over the winter. Hopefully this policy gets altered in the future, but until then, keep your eyes peeled during this week’s Masters. Apparently, you, the viewer at home, have just as much power as a paid official: who knew?
2. National Championship tonight
There were no great underdog stories over the weekend, as both remaining one-seeds advanced to the NCAA Championship. Gonzaga outsmarted South Carolina with some excellent game-management late in their 77-73 win, while North Carolina just bullied Oregon on the glass to squeak out a 77-76 victory. Now the Tar Heels are one win away from avenging last year’s soul-crushing loss to Villanova, and just slight one-point favorites over the Bulldogs. It’s boring, but I’ll side with the team that’s been here before in UNC.
3. Real Opening Day under way
The MLB’s scant “Opening Day” saw just three games on the slate, and wound up in three underdog wins. While it’s been a good start to the season for the little guy, keep in mind, all of those winners were also playing at home. On today’s slate, Milwaukee (+110), Texas (even), Oakland (+105) and the White Sox (+115) are all home dogs, and each one — besides Chicago — is worth a look. The Mariners (+135) and Jays (+125) also have good value on the road against division rivals.
4. Los Angeles Kings eliminated from playoff contention
So much for being “perennial contenders.” Winners of two Stanley Cups between 2012-14, the Kings have now missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. While they’ve remained one of the most dominant defensive teams in the game, L.A. wasn’t able to generate scoring when they needed this season. For example: 39-year-old trade-deadline pickup Jarome Iginla led the team in goals for the month of March.
Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown will all be over 30 years old next season, and all of them are commanding big money on contracts that run until at least 2021. With the salary cap unlikely to go up, the Kings will have to get creative just to ice a team as competitive as this year’s. Sure they’re still deep along on the blueline, but defense won’t win you championships if you can’t get in the postseason.
Young talented teams in Edmonton and Calgary have emerged, making the once lackluster Pacific Division a real grind. The Kings will be in tough just to make it back to the playoffs next season. As for this team being a worthwhile Stanley Cup future, those days are dead.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]