Happy Monday everyone, here's my Top 5 for April 11, 2011 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* South Africa's Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win the Masters by two shots. Tiger Woods finished tied for fourth, four shots back.
* Welcome to 1984. A female sportswriter from New Jersey was not permitted into the Masters locker room yesterday. Women have been allowed for 26 years.
* The NHL playoffs begin Wednesday. The champion Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Rangers backed into the last two playoff spots thanks to other teams losing.
* When the Giants handed out their World Series rings, the first one went to equipment manager Mike Murphy who has been with the club since 1958. Cool.
2. The (Euro) Masters
Now that was fun. The final round of the Masters turned out to be a stampede for the green jacket. Tiger Woods grabbed a piece of the lead, and then ho-hummed the back nine. Of all the golfers interviewed at the end, he was the least gracious. What else is new? How painful was it to watch Rory McIlroy implode with an 80? He went from a four-stroke lead to losing by 10, a massive 14-stroke swing. And welcome to the EuroSlam. It's the first time in history that all four major golf titles are held by players from the European Tour. At least the state of American golf is better than tennis. It's been eight years since an American man has won a major tennis tournament -- Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open. From the looks of things, golf appears headed in the same direction.
3. Manny Being Manny
So is this the end of the Manny Ramirez saga? He failed another drug test, so he up and retired from Tampa Bay. Ramirez was clearly one of the most feared righty hitters the game has seen. His two championships in Boston, .312 career batting average and 555 homers spell Hall of Fame, although now he's lumped in the druggie category. I can't escape the feeling there should have been more from Ramirez. He wanted out of Boston so he became such a headache that the Red Sox had no choice but to get rid of him. When he was a teenager, George Washington High School in Manhattan helped make him a man, a wealthy man at that. He has since turned his back on his old school which could have used his help. So while lots of fans have been amused by "Manny being Manny," if his career indeed ends this way, a more proper epitaph will be, "Manny disappointing many."
4. Say When
How can you read George Vecsey's piece in the Times and not wonder if we've reached the breaking point? He talks about a Rangers fan's hockey ticket going from $240 to $715 next year. One guy's Knicks ticket is ballooning from $300 to $1000 per game. A Yankee fan opines that the middle-class, lower-income fans and minorities are being excluded. He writes about his seats at Yankee Stadium, "My section is like pre-Mandela South Africa." In the same vein, Top 5 subscriber Joel G., a Jets fan writes, "After 46 years, almost 700 games, this is goodbye." He cites among his grievances, "overpriced tickets, overpriced food, outrageous parking fees." So my question is, will one Knicks ticket cost $5,000 down the road? Will every "fan" be a rich businessman on an expense account? Or have we finally reached the breaking point?
How time flies. The NHL regular season is over. When you think of hockey you think Southern California, right? For the first time both Anaheim and Los Angeles have made the playoffs in the same year. When you throw in San Jose, the playoff scoreboard reads, California 3, Canada 2. Then there's the New York area, the only market with three teams. When the Rangers backed into the playoffs Saturday night, the New York area avoided a complete wipeout. In a sport where it's hard not to make the playoffs, New York area hockey fans just missed out on a natural "hat trick." Alas, there's always next year.
Happy Birthday: Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. 31.
Bonus Birthday: Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey. 79.
Today in Sports: The birth of the Mets! The Mets played their first game, losing to St. Louis 11-4. No biggie. Just one of 120 losses that inaugural season. 1962.
Bonus Event: E = mc2. Albert Einstein comes up with that relativity thing. 1906.
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