|I'd invite Danny Almonte to visit me at The Cooler today, but a couple of things: 1.) I'm not sure if the 12-year-old has a fake ID that would allow him
to drink the spiked Sparkletts; and 2.) I'm terrified of him.
Really. Have you seen this cat? The lefty who is humming it at 75 mph ... from 45 feet away!
I've seen the Little League World Series for at least 25 years now, and I've never seen anybody as frightening as Almonte, the pitcher from the Bronx who no 12-year-old in the world will touch this week. Every year, there's some kid who throws seeds, whether he's the fat kid from Washington, or that kid from Connecticut who wound up being Chris Drury and all, or those 6-foot-3 Taiwanese who used to shave between innings.
But nobody is in this kid Almonte's universe. Seeing the big windup, the left arm whipping around his body ... the bad memories come rushing back, how as a kid I used to pray I wouldn't have to face the gas-thrower in Little League. The junkballer was cool to face. Though a curve to a 12-year-old can be mind-bending in its own right, the junkballer was inevitably the guy who had the mental breakdown and would throw the meatball. You could pound the junkballer.
The flamethrower? I had no shot. Those guys looked like they were in the batter's box when they stepped to the plate. Against the flame-thrower, you had three options: 1.) Pull the Rudy Stein and hope you get hit (but only below the waist); 2.) Square to bunt; or 3.) Tears.
Now, I'm not saying I'd break down and cry on a Little League field, but a good gullywasher in the dugout might mean you could earn the three innings-and-out treatment from the manager.
|Danny Almonte threw the first perfect game in the Little League World Series in 44 years.|
I even remember the names of the guys who threw sawblades in Little League. I won't bust them out now to give them any kind of feeling that they got one over on me, but they know who they are. Somewhere they sit in a work cubicle in America, clicking on The Cooler, and chuckling, knowing they had the Murph knocking knees at the plate.
But let me tell you something, boys. You've got nothing -- nuthin', you hear me! -- on Danny Almonte, which I believe is a Spanish last name that roughly
translates to "batter who soils his uniform pants."
If I see this kid Almonte walking down the street, I'm crossing the street. If he crosses the street with me, I'll hide. If this kid Almonte wants to throw me any BP, I'm squaring to bunt.
Failing that, there's always the good cry.
On that manly note, let's check the Weekend List of Five, with heavy emphasis on the back sweat I worked up trudging 18 with Lefty and D. Toms at Atlanta Athletic Club on Sunday:
1. He didn't fly all the way to Atlanta to lay up, did he?
|You wanna stand in against a kid who throws 75 mph. ... from 45 feet away!?|
Yeah, there's a go-to phrase you'll hear at The Cooler. I'm a real card on the golf course. I stink, but faced with a chance to launch a fairway wood at
a short par-4 after topping my drive, I'll usually dust off the old standby.
Like, if I'm playing at Harding Park in my hometown of San Francisco, just a few miles from my crib, I'll say: "Hey, I didn't drive 10 minutes down 19th Avenue just to lay up." Big laugh-getter. Then, I swing. Bigger laugh-getter.
So David Toms is in this cauldron of Mickelson Love (and why, America, have you adopted this rather charm-free android as your golfer of choice?), and he has a bad lie on 18, and there's this huge lake, and he has 210 to carry it, and Mickelson's a shot back and gonna hit the green in regulation ... so Toms lays up. Brilliant! Take the whole concept of golf machismo, and stuff it.
Learn your lesson from Van de Velde '99, and lay up! The dude lays up, gets to 88 yards out and stuffs an L-wedge to 10 feet. 'Course, I'd run that putt back into the lake with my first major on the line. Not D. Toms. He's money, baby. You wanted Mickelson? Tough.
As my boy D. and I often say, crediting, of course, the epic scene in "Swingers" when Trent is telling the story of his audition for a back-to-school special, "Just give me the f'ing part." 'Cept we don't say "f'ing."
As for D. Toms getting up and down from 88 yards out to win a major? Just give him the f'ing part.
2. Lefty: Left out
|Golf machismo be damned! David Toms is the 2001 PGA champ.|
I almost started to feel sorry for Mickelson, who usually leaves me cold. He actually looked pale green after Toms won the thing. Then I saw Phil's cute
little daughter kiss him on the lips, and the unconditional love thing was a little touching, I gotta admit.
Then I realized I was getting soft.
It wasn't so much Mickelson I was rooting against, but that gallery. Hey, American sports fans: Can you be a little less loutish? Can you hold your beer like men? Can you not treat David Toms like he's Europe in the Ryder Cup? I heard people acting the fool all through the back nine, wishing Toms' ball into bunkers, applauding his three-putts like he was Monty.
Listen: I'm fresh off the British Open, where I only heard the rich, lush sounds of appreciative golf applause. Not once did I hear "GETINTHEHOLE" as soon as contact was made. We won't even get into "YOUDAYOUKNOWWHAT."
Hey, in Europe, they pound their beer, and act like they've been there before.
Here, they pound their beer, and bring shame to our reputation as a solid drinking nation that can hold its own. Come on, America. I expect better of
3. Shingo Katayama
|Phil Mickelson will have to wait until at least 2002 to win his first major.|
I want to party with you, cowboy.
4. J.R. in Silver and Black
There he was, at the 'Stick, site of his exploits as maybe the greatest football player ever to play. There he was, making his emotional return to face his old team. There he was, embracing old teammates.
And there I was, finally realizing: It's football in August. Get a freakin' hold of yourself.
That said, we're getting close, people. Almost time to buy the face paint.
|Jerry Rice was wearing an enemy jersey against the Niners on Sunday.|
Great stuff, man. Who would you take in a smile-off, Sasaki or Shingo? Ichiro's too cool to smile. The M's took two of three at the Stadium, and actually made me think they might be able to summon up the moxie in October.
'Cause lemme tell ya, I'm worried about those lads living up to the pressure -- especially when The Boss makes his latest, most brilliant move before the ALCS.
What, you can't see it a mile away?
I'll give you a hint: Game 7, probable starters: Seattle (Garcia, 18-7) vs. New York (Almonte, 0-0).
You heard it here first.
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Monday Morning Water Cooler" every week for Page 2. Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories