It has been suggested by my father-in-law Rich and my wife’s co-workers, that I tackle some other sports topics on my blog.  So I’m introducing a new weekly segment called Touch ’em all, where I will briefly write about the topics of that weeks big stories in sports around Chicagoland.

Let’s start off with the ridiculous notion that Tiger Woods is the favorite to win The Masters gold tournament this week.  Las Vegas has installed him as the favorite to win at Augusta National which has pissed off a lot of other golfers.  Rory McElroy and Bubba Watson in particular have made statements that have a competitive (what about me?)  feel to them.  When you consider that the Masters is already the most practiced for tournament on the tour, the Vegas oddsmakers did Woods no favors by getting everyone’s boxers’s in a bunch.

Granted Woods has been playing well, coming back from at least 3 surgeries in the last 4 years.   He has even grabbed the lead in tournaments in the last 6 six weeks, but lets be real… he has not won.  Until he wins, I don’t think you can call him the favorite for anything, except comeback player of the year.  And lets not forget how messy his personal life still is, he has supposedly been taken to court by an ex-girlfriend to settle a complaint she is making against him.  And there probably lies the real motivation for his comeback… money, and to a lessor degree, major’s.

I’m sure Tiger thinks he could possibly get back to where he was, winning major tournaments, but I would bet a steak dinner at Walker’s Charhouse with Rich, that he never wins another major.  Hell, I don’t think he’ll ever win another tournament until he goes to the senior tour.

Bad backs are hard to play with and hard to strengthen.  I just don’t see him posting four good, to great, days in a row.  He will challenge at times and lend a lot of excitement to the sport that needs it, but with McElroy, Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas and so many up and coming golfers motivated to beat Woods, I predict his days of filling his trophy case are over!

Now that we have put Woods to bed, like he has done with so many porn stars and Perkin’s waitresses, we can talk about real contenders for the Green Jacket.

Jordan Speith, who practically grew up at Augusta National and has been practicing his erratic putting stroke for weeks now, won the first day of the tournament with a 6 under score.   The heat and wind conditions look to play havoc on Friday though.  The field is now very bunched together, as a result of Speith’s double bogey today at the first hole, as  conditions change rapidly at the famed course.

Bubba Watson, my pick to win the event, is having quite the comeback of his own.  He won going away at Riviera a couple months ago under similar conditions, and is coming off a resounding victory in the most recent match play championship.  Augusta favors lefties and I predict both Watson and Phil Mickleson to be in the hunt this weekend.

Justin Thomas, is the latest newcomer to the championship scene.  He has been beating up the tour for a few years by playing in the winter tournaments and dominating, while avoiding the big dogs of the tour.  But broke out to win four tournaments last summer including his first major at the PGA Championship.  The reigning player of the year will be in the running someday at the Masters, maybe this year.

Rory McElroy, will be looking to complete his career grand slam by winning this weekend’s Masters.  And Justin Rose, a consistently low scorer at the Masters  looks to breakthrough after so many close calls in the last decade.

 

Blackhawks:   Team President John McDonough pulled aside reporters Thursday at the United Center during practice and announced both general manager Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville will be returning next season, with Quenneville having final say on his coaching staff.

The Blackhawks made a couple of key moves at the trading deadline by being sellers for the first time in a decade.  They were able to recoup draft picks, including another 1st rounder and acquired speedy young forward Anthony Duclair.  With a lot of high picks and salary cap room, for the first time in years, the Hawks expect to make a quick turnaround to open their veterans championship window back up.  Breakout players like Nick Schmaltz and Alex Debrincat have the organization feeling very optimistic that the Hawks will be back in the playoffs next year.

 

Bulls:  As I predicted, the Bulls will finish with between 27-30 victories, and “the tank” dominated conversation around the Bulls season.  In my opinion the Bulls did make one mistake this year.  After the fight between Nicola Mirotic and Bobby Portis at the beginning of the season, it seems most of the players sided with Portis, after Mirotic became even more withdrawn from the team.  Mirotic eventually felt better and came back to the team with a distant, but professional attitude.  Once Mirotic began playing, the team won 7 games in a row and 10 of 12, and even spurred playoff talk from the beat writers that cover the team.  Fortunately for the team/tank, Mirotic came down with the flu, missed games and was then held out, until he was traded for a 1st round pick to New Orleans, who had just lost star forward Boogie Cousins to a leg injury.

It’s great that the Bulls were the one team to snag another 1st round pick this year, but I fear that trading Mirotic was a mistake.  After his illness and trade, the Bulls went from looking like Golden State(defending champ) during their win streak, to looking like Atlanta, the worst team in the Eastern conference.

Porits is a decent player, don’t get me wrong.  But a player like Mirotic, who can create his own shot and score from anywhere is really hard to find, especially at a reasonable price.  Mirotic didn’t get to play with Zach LaVine, who was coming back from injury.  LaVine proved to be worth the trade of himself, Kris Dunn and the pick of Lauri Markkanen  for Jimmy Butler.  But… LaVine is a bit of a ball hog, and is a slasher who needs room in the paint to drive and shooters outside to pass to.  Which player sounds  like a better fit with LaVine, the lane clogging and weak rebounding Portis or the natural shooter in Mirotic, who may have been the Bulls most improved defender as well during their December hot streak.

With the season nearly over, the big conversation about the Bulls future will center on how much to pay LaVine, who is a restricted free agent.  Do the Bulls let him walk if someone offers him a max deal?

 

That the Cubs have to put up with crap from their fans like this weeks panic over two consecutive shutouts, is exactly why I hate dumbass Cubs fans.  There is way too much talent on the Cubs for them to fail to win their division.  Just relax, everything will be fine.  They have too many hitter’s that just crush it.  It’s more likely than not, the team was tired from travelling from Arizona to Florida to Cincinatti without any real breaks.  With the second game in the Queen city cancelled, they were able to come home for a day of rest before going north to Milwaukee.  I’d be surprised if they don’t crush the Brewers and anyone else who comes in for their first home stand of the season starting Monday.  Relax dummies.  Before you send your death threats to me, I believe most Cubs fans to be pretty smart about baseball and family oriented.  The dummies are in another category like an alcoholic drug abusing brother-in-law.  Don’t lob yourselves in with the losers.  And by the way, I hate all dumbasses who I believe are only 5% of all of us!

 

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