Big Brown, U.S. Open and UH baseball

Bobby Curran
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Friday - June 13, 2008
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So much for intuition. I had a feeling about Big Brown as he prepped for the Belmont, one I hadn’t felt about Funnycide or Smarty Jones. Surely this undefeated horse would become the first in 30 years to complete the Triple Crown.

Shows how wrong I can be. But I was hardly alone. And still nobody has much of an explanation for the worst performance by a favorite in the history of the Belmont. Could it have been the quarter crack in the hoof? Did Big Brown miss his monthly injection of Winstrol? Did those two in combination cause this horse to be poorly conditioned for the race? Throw in the weather and you’ve got most of the excuses being offered up for a horrible effort. But I can safely say that even if I’d been in the stands at Belmont, it would-n’t have cost me a dime.

My first lesson in wagering on horses was “don’t bet the chalk (favorites).” I broke the rule only once and it cost me $40 when that was enough for four tanks of gas. And yet the majority of the crowd at Belmont backed Big Brown despite his being a huge favorite.

We’ll next see Big Brown in the Travers at Saratoga in August, but even if he wins there and at the Breeders Cup in October, it’ll never make up for his June swoon.

The U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines this weekend represents the sternest test of golf for the best players in the world. Weekend warriors the world over seem to take a fiendish glee when they watch the pros humbled by wicked rough and pool table greens. But one change may make Torrey Pines a bit more reasonable. The rough will be graded so that a narrowly missed fairway should still allow players to have a shot at the green. The greens are registering about 13 on the stimpmeter, so par should still be an excellent score.

The real drama should be when Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods tee off on Thursday. It’s hard to believe that Tiger will be sharp in his first competitive round since the Masters. The rehab from his third surgery on his left knee has progressed slowly, but Tiger has had his way with this course since he was in the juniors. He has not only won often here, he’s won easily.And Mickelson also has won here. Both consider it sort of their home course. And despite playing it down, there is still tension between these two.

It ought to be great theater for golf fans.

The University of Hawaii baseball team escaped relatively unscathed from last week’s Major League draft. Seniors Brandon Haislett and Jon Hee have signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox respectively. Junior right-hander Matt Daly is expected to sign, but junior catcher Landon Hernandez was taken in the 50th round and may return. Hawaii had two of its high school recruits drafted, including Kolten Wong from Kamehameha-Hawaii, but neither was selected high enough to render their decisions a foregone conclusion.

Coach Mike Trapasso and his staff have some baseball camps coming up for hitters, pitcher-catchers and even a special camp for infielders. Get the details at

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