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The Wacky Week in Sports: The Open Closed Pretty Quickly

Well, folks, another week has come to a close. We had some tea and crumpets with a dominant performance at Royal Liverpool, we found a few morons with big mouths in the NFL, we enjoyed the MLB all star festivities, and of course we witnessed the amazing RE2PECT commercial. So here we go on yet another thrilling ride around the  world of sports!

Onward to this week’s recap!

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It’s a Right Ol’ Knees Up: The British Open

It just wouldn’t be a major championship without a little insight and commentary from Wayniac Nation’s own, Mike Dunton. This week, our golf expert looks at THREE INTERESTING STORIES TO FOLLOW FROM THE BRITISH OPEN. As always, Dunton (@dartbus1521) gives us his prediction for the weekend as well. So grab some tea, maybe a Newcastle if you’re feeling nutty, and enjoy a weekend of golf from the British Isles. Ta!

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Ah, the British Open (or as I prefer to call it, The Open Championship) is upon us. Being the oldest of all major championships, dating back to 1860, it holds a special place with me. I reminisce back to college days when I could roll in at four in the morning and watch golf live on the worldwide leader in sports (sorry to my editor for that plug) until I could sort of see straight again. The courses rotate every 9 years, and each year we learn about local customs, quaint British towns, and how much golfers fear the pot bunkers. Over the past 20 years I have witnessed coronations, catastrophes, and all things in between. Can one forget Jack’s final crossing of the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th at St.Andrews in 2005? How about Jean Van de Velde’s epic collapse at Carnoustie in 1999, a “Burn” he will never recover from? Remember poor Tom Watson’s chance at history in 2009 when he missed par on the final hole to become the oldest player ever to win an Open Championship? Let’s not forget two years ago when, on day four, Adam Scott went from eleven under atop the leader board to second place after shooting a horrid five over on that Sunday. The Open Championship has seen its fair share of epic moments in golf, and this week may be no different. There are three intriguing stories heading into Thursday’s opening round to follow in the wee hours of the morning here in the states.

Keep going for three stories to keep your eye on this weekend

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A Night with the Crawdads: I Love MiLB

This past July 4th weekend, the fiancé and I took in a Hickory Crawdads game. The Crawdads play in Hickory, North Carolina and are the Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Jose Bautista, the American League Captain in last night’s Home Run Derby, and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen are two of Hickory’s most famous alumni. As soon as we paid the three dollars to park, I immediately remembered how much I love MiLB.

Minor league baseball truly wants you to come to the games. They aren’t money making conglomerates like the new Yankees Stadium, which we also stopped at on our road trip. Sometimes, I feel like they don’t care if they even make a dime. They are owned by big league ball clubs and every last player that takes the field is giving it everything they got in hopes of being noticed. We were in for a real treat that night as Dario Alvarez was pitching for the Savannah Sand Gnats. While I understand 99% of you just said who?, the other 1 % knows that he is one of the best pitchers Single-A has to offer. This season Alvarez is 6-0 with a 0.98 ERA, striking out 89 batters while only walking 13 over 55 innings. That night in Hickory he was dealing, allowing no earned runs while striking out eight.

I have been to a few minor league ball games this season and watch at least a little bit every night as head of the Minor League Coverage team at Yanks Go Yard. I know I enjoy it more than the average person, but you really should take in a minor league game some time. There are plenty of reasons for everyone to enjoy it.

3. The Team Names:

Minor league baseball teams are in the most obscure places with some of the most obscure names. I don’t even know where Kannapolis is, but I would certainly be a fan of the Intimidators. Tell me you wouldn’t want to get decked out in your favorite pirate costume (you know you have one) and take in a Bradenton Marauder game down in Florida. If I saw that the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes were facing off against the Modesto Nuts, I would go to the game without even needing to know what sport was being played! I’m sure Paris Hilton is the biggest fan of the El Paso Chihuahuas, and you know that Homer Simpson has season tickets to the Albuquerque Isotopes.

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2. The Promotions.

Sure, the Yankees have their grounds keepers do a YMCA for you, and the Atlanta Braves have the Home Depot Tool Race, but that stuff doesn’t compare to the on-field antics at minor league baseball parks. Look at this for example:

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What you’re looking at here is a young man dressed as the Tooth Fairy. His prime responsibility was to run out onto L.P. Frans Stadium’s field, home of the Crawdads, and keep the bases pearly white. At first I thought it was a college kid being initiated into some fraternity, but then I remembered I’m in a minor league baseball stadium and this is actually pretty normal.

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs have a feature in their stadium that is second to no other: they have urinal video games people. That’s right, urinal video games. If you can put in the back of your mind the amount of germs that you are taking in (or if you are simply drunk enough to not comprehend it) you can play video games right there in front of you while you drain your Richmond Flying Squirrel. One of my favorite promotions that I have ever heard of happened last season at the Cleveland Indians Single-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ game: on All You Can Eat Wednesday they handed out free liposuction! I couldn’t even make that up if I tried! Several teams hold musical chair contests right on the field. Hickory allows one lucky fan to suit up in a sumo suit and tackle the mascots!

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Then you have the specials. There are nights in minor league ball parks you can go and get hammered for ten dollars. No lie. You can thank the Asheville Tourists for that one. They started the whole Thirsty Thursdays idea, and you can now go to many minor league ballparks on a beautiful summer Thursday night and get beers for a whole dollar. Think about that: beers at a baseball game for one dollar. You know what you can get at a Minnesota Twins game for a dollar? Nothing at all, and they are essentially a minor league team!  On top of it, while you are waiting on line for that dollar beer, why don’t you take a go on the moon jump right next to the concessions line?

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While at the Crawdads game, I even noticed they had Unemployment Night every Wednesday. If you show your unemployment ID at a Wednesday night game, you get four free tickets. Like I said, minor league teams really want you to be there.

1. The Stadiums.

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Most minor league stadiums are no bigger than a college ball park, but that coziness makes it that much more enjoyable. I remember I went to a Portland Beavers game, and we were sitting at high top tables drinking beers literally in right field foul territory. We were on the field and I think the tickets cost six dollars.

You can go to a minor league baseball game and get prime seating and an enjoyable night out for under $25 if you really wanted to. You can barely do a movie for that these days! If a minor league stadium holds more than 5,000 people, you are at an enormous stadium. If they are charging over $10 or $12 for a ticket, something monumental is happening. Hell, the night we went to the game the Crawdads let you in for FREE if you were wearing a red shirt. The entire stadium was a sea of red, except for me, my fiancé, her younger sister, her bridesmaid, and my future father-in-law, all of whom unfortunately had no idea that the promotion was going on that evening. If you don’t like baseball, you can still go get drunk or eat until your stomach bursts for peanuts, and the game (unlike at the major league level) will be over in less time than a $14 movie. Plus, they always have cool stuff like this:

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I hope one day you get to go out and take in a game. Anywhere that you live, there is probably a minor league ball park no less than twenty minutes away. I mean, even Arkansas has a minor league team, and what the hell is in Arkansas? I know for sure I can’t wait for Monday night when I get to go see the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders face off against the Gwinnett Braves at CoolRay Field on Kids Eat Free Night. I am 90 percent certain with the ever so strict rules at minor league ball parks that I will be under 12 years of age that night.

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THE WACKY WEEK IN SPORTS: #LeBrontoClev #ComingHome Week

The reason I started Wayniac Nation, for those that are still unaware, was my complete and utter disdain for ESPN. I think a majority of their anchors are hacks and that their programming has become complete fluff. As I have said before, they are the TMZ/ Enquirer of sports. I get way more from my daily dose of Chuck and Chernoff than I do from ten minutes of SportsCenter. The coverage of the LeBron James Decision Part Deux has only justified my remorse.

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That said, the biggest sports news of the week comes from the NBA. First overall pick Andrew Wiggins completely outplayed second overall pick Jabari Parker in their first meeting Friday in the NBA rookie summer league from Las Vegas. Elsewhere, LeBron James, aka The King, aka The Chosen One, also returned home to Cleveland, the place he left four years ago to rise to amazing heights in Miami while Cleveland sunk into obscurity. Fans burned Bron’s jerseys when he left for the Heat, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said some harsh words about his character, and people across the nation deemed The Decision as the biggest egotistical piece of horse manure they ever had to endure. And now he is back. The Cavaliers went from 60-1 underdogs for the NBA title to the 3-1 overall favorites to win the whole dang thing. Here’s the thing: if this whole sign and trade with the Lakers and Bulls falls through for Pau Gasol and the Spurs wind up with Gasol, none of this matters. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will have one for the other hand.

This whole thing smells fishy to me. I feel like this was David Stern’s master plan, and if any league in the world would set something up simply for ratings, it is certainly the soap opera that the NBA is. No one cared when Bron was in Cleveland, so did the NBA ship him to Miami, a major market, to revive the fading NBA viewership? You can’t argue that it didn’t work. The NBA is back and now, LeBron can go home. Maybe I give to much credit to the Illuminati, but I feel like that this was all set up four years ago. And now poor Carmelo Anthony has resigned with New York. I guess this guy never wants to win a championship, but at least he got a chip with my boys up in ‘Cuse!

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Moving on to futbol, today is the day we find out the kings of the world. The 2014 World Cup concludes today with Agrentina facing off against Germany. Germany decimated host country Brazil, scoring more times in six minutes than seniors do on prom night. It was unreal and seemed entirely too easy. Four goals in six minutes and a nation was left crying. CRYING!!! Could you imagine if Jimmy Dugan was the coach?

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Lionel Messi gets the chance to add the final piece to his ultimate trophy collection and prove that he truly is the best player in the world. Argentina advanced to the finals after a grueling 120 minutes of nothing. Seriously, that game was why it is so hard to get Americans to completely convert to futbol. Then, when nothing was decided, they turned to penalty kicks. I like the concept of penalty kicks, but I do have a problem with such a big game being decided by them. They are largely luck, either the goalie chooses correctly and dives in the right direction, or you lose. Regular season games, sure. Quarter final games, why not? But once you are in the semi finals, I think you play until someone scores. And if players start collapsing then so be it! Could you imaging Game 7 of the World Series tied after 10 innings and they go to a home run derby to decide the world champion? Wait a second, that actually sounds amazing!

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Speaking of the MLB, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum continue to do ridiculous things with the baseball. Kershaw’s scoreless innings streak was snapped at 41 yet he still hurled a complete game. His last seven starts are video game-esque: he has allowed a mere three runs while striking out 71 and walking six with a no hitter along the way. The Freak has been equally superb allowing just one run over his last four starts with a no hitter as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees have one, ONE, starting pitcher in their rotation that started the season with them. Looks like I picked the right year to start writing for my favorite team. Oooo, can I really line up that Jeff Francis interview now?

The NHL free agency period continued this week.

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Lastly, the Andre Johnson soap opera continues out of Houston in the NFL. Andre wants out, but John McClain, who knows more about the Texans than Gary Kubiak ever did, says Johnson isn’t going anywhere. Due to his hefty contract, the Texans won’t trade Johnson and eat all of that money, so the question remains whether he will hold out or play. Across the state in Dallas, Kyle Orton still hasn’t reported either, leaving Brandon Weeden the backup for Tony Romo. That is the worst sentence ever typed in the history of the NFL.

Another week of sports is in the books. We have a lot on deck here at Wayniac Nation this coming week, including a look into why minor league baseball is so much fun. When you are finally Bron-ed out, come on back and check out some quality sports insights! Till next time.. MESSI MESSI MESSI!!!!

 

 

 

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Q and A with the Philadelphia Phillies’ David Buchanan

I met Sarah and Ashley Buchanan nearly ten years ago. We were working as servers at one of the busiest sports bars in Atlanta. We quickly became friends and have remained so over the years. Sarah has been a baseball junkie since I’ve known her. It was fun to see her get all worked up about the Braves. It was also fun to listen to her talk about her little brother.

I can honesty tell you that Sarah and Ashley seemingly never had a doubt that their younger brother David Buchanan was going to be a big league pitcher. Who am I to not trust them? I really began following his career once he hit Georgia State University. He had already been drafted by the Mets at that point but decided to stay in college. Shortly thereafter he was drafted by the Phillies. Two drafts, two of the Braves’ biggest rivals.

Needless to say, David quickly worked his way up to Lehigh Valley and was a solid part of the Iron Pigs rotation. This spring he made it really hard for the Phillies to send him back down, but you knew he would not be gone for long. So I made sure that when he made one of his last Iron Pigs appearances against the Gwinnett Braves that I made the game. I’m glad I did as David was dealing that night and looked sharp. After I watched him beat the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the team I cover for Yanks Go Yard, twice in the same month, I was ready for him to head to the bigs. One game later he did.

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As you will see in the interview, nothing seems more important to David than the support of friends and family. I am so grateful that he took a few minutes to answer a few questions for me even with all the work and preparation he goes through everyday. So, without further ado, let’s meet David Buchanan:

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Wayniac Nation: You were born in 1989, which means you grew up just a few miles from Fulton County and then Turner Field during the greatest era of Braves baseball. That being said, what were your emotions after being drafted by the Phillies?

David Buchanan: My emotions were 100% excitement! All of my life I had dreamed of being a professional player and was told by a ton of people that it probably wouldn’t happen. I was officially getting my chance by an amazing team. I knew the Phillies were good so I was ecstatic to get going!

WN: Your start on June 14th was part of history. What did it mean to you as a rookie, nonetheless, being part of such a huge day with Jimmy Rollins’ big hit and watching Mike Schmidt walk onto the field?

DB: Everyday that I walk into the clubhouse I get a chance to hang out with some of the biggest names in baseball. On top of that my coaches have had amazing careers as well. Even more so my manager is a Hall of Famer! Being focused on my start was the main thing on my mind but I knew what was going on with Jimmy. The whole day was amazing! Not only did the team win, Jimmy break the record, and Mike Schmidt congratulate him on the field, but my girlfriend Ashley was there as well to witness it. It was such a cool experience all the way around!

WN: June 19th, St. Louis. Shelby Miller. You get to face off against one of the brightest young pitching stars in the game. You come out and pitch arguably the best game of your young career: 7.2 innings pitched, one run, only one walk, and four strikeouts. Is there extra pressure there, not just in facing such a good team, but in dueling Shelby Miller?

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DB: Honestly there was no added pressure toward the team. I approach every team and pitcher the same. If you start thinking about who is better and who isn’t that good you will find yourself in a bad spot. I was excited to throw that day especially because my second family from Arkansas, the Grants, had driven up to see me as well as my sister’s boyfriend and my godfather. Having family and friends there means everything, then having an outing like I did just capped it off.

WN: You are lucky to have some highly successful veterans on the pitching staff for your first run in the bigs. What have you taken from being able to prepare every day alongside AJ Burnett, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee?

DB: I can’t even begin to talk about how much I have learned and how much I am learning from those guys! I have developed a friendship with them which means even more. The knowledge that they all have and share with me is priceless. But what is even more impressive is how down to earth they are. All in all the kind of people/teammates they are to me, could never be stated justifiably enough.

WN: On June 29th in Philly you had your first go ‘round with your home town Braves. Was it really just another game? Were the butterflies jumping out of your stomach?

DB: It’s going to be a little different only because I will be facing a team that I literally spent my entire childhood rooting for: wearing shirts and hats, going to games, and pretending to be certain players in the back yard, it’s what I did all the time. So being in the place where I’m pitching against them was very surreal! I had so many friends texting and calling me, telling me that I was putting them in a very tight spot because they all love the Braves but they we’re going to root for me anyway. That definitely meant a lot to receive that kind of support. It was a really cool experience all the way around.

 

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THE WACKY WEEK IN SPORTS: Independence Day Style

Yet another week of sports has found its way into the books. (Incidentally, I always wondered what books stuff seems to find its way into, especially with the Internet and Wikipedia these days. But I digress…) It’s also the last day of my ten day road trip up and down the east coast. After taking in a lovely Single-A Hickory Crawdads baseball game last night, I am ready to head home. But not before one last week in review from the road!

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The final four in the World Cup is set. The host nation of Brazil is set to take on Germany on Tuesday, while the upstart Netherlands club, who sent my beloved Ticans of Costa Rica home yesterday vi penalty kicks, is ready to play Argentina. The big news moving forward is that two of the biggest names in the world will be absent from the pitch for the remainder of the Cup. Sergio Aguero of Argentina remained sidelined but hopes to be prepared for the semi finals, although it looks bleak. Brazil lost Beats By Dre spokesperson Neymar for the remainder of the Cup. He broke a vertebra in his back on a controversial play against Colombia and would eventually be airlifted to a hospital. His absence could invoke them to play stronger to bring home the Cup for him, or it could be a devastating blow as he is their clear cut leader. This past Tuesday brought an end to the United States impressive run.  Although many were happy and proud of this team, I saw it a little differently. In case you missed last Wednesday’s story, here are the three reasons you should not be happy with the USMNT performance in the World Cup. Also, as depicted in the picture above, the largest locust in the history of the world assisted in a goal for Colombia’s James Rodriguez. After the game, the locust tested positive for PEDs.

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Does Josh Gordon simply not want to play in the NFL? Justin Blackmon Part Deux was arrested on Saturday morning for a DUI after blowing a 0.9. This of course comes after he was caught in May for marijuana. While Gordon seems like a blast to hang out with, his 2015 season and career are clearly in jeopardy. This would be a huge blow to the Browns and fantasy geeks nationwide. For those of you who don’t know Josh Gordon, he was the guy who made Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, and Jason “Captain Checkdown” Campbell look like NFL quarterbacks last season. Johnny Manziel reportedly tweeted how angry he was at Gordon as Mr. Football felt he was the only Browns’ player allowed to hog the limelight. In other big NFL news, Jimmy Graham was declared a tight end and not a wide receiver as he had hoped in his franchise tag ruling. So if you get a chance, please tweet Jimmy (whose own Twitter account says he’s a tight end, Einstein) and tell him how sorry you are for him that he has to make ONLY a little over seven million this season while he negotiates what will most likely be the largest tight end contract of all time.

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Queen James and the Big Three are still currently unsigned in the NBA. Early reports were that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were negotiating amongst themselves to figure out a way to get all three back together on the Heat next season. Now, there are reports surfacing that James may indeed go his own way, with Phoenix being a potential suitor. I guess he figures Phoenix will be a shorter flight home from San Antonio when he loses to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, aka The Real Big Three, again next season. In other NBA news, the 2014 draft picks have started play in the Orlando Summer League. Shabazz Napier and Marcus Smart had shaky debuts but finished out strong. Nerlens Noel impressed everyone, dropping 19 points while grabbing two boards, and adding three assists, four steals and one block in his first professional performance.

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How do you describe the play of Clayton Kershaw of late? Gnarly? Sick? Silly? Whatever you choose, Kershaw has decimated MLB lineups and has now dealt 36 consecutive scoreless innings over 32 innings while allowing a mere 13 hits while striking out 44 and walking four! That’s insane. Kershaw is honing in on his second consecutive season with an ERA under 1.90 and back-to-back Cy Young Awards. That would give him three in four years at the age of 26. That’s right, folks, Kershaw is just hitting his pitching prime. Throw on top of it that he just got paid some serious loot and unlike other divas in the world of sports, he’s still actually performing! We are watching something truly special in LA and pretty soon everyone of his starts is going to be a prime time game. Across the country, this past July 4th marked the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s immortal farewell speech. The greatest first baseman of all-time gave a speech on July 4, 1939 that rivals any ever given. It evokes tears and gives chills to every sports fan to this day.

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BONEHEAD OF THE WEEK AWARD: Finally some NHL news that is worthy to write about. Philadelphia Flyers’ captain and forward Claude Giroux was arrested on Canada Day in Ontario for repeatedly grabbing a male police officer’s rear end. Seriously. I didn’t even have to make any of that up, so I say thank you Claude. According to USA Today, Giroux said, “”I regret my actions on Canada Day and sincerely apologize to my fans, teammates and the Philadelphia Flyers organization for my misguided attempt at humor.” Don’t sell yourself short, pal, you’re the funniest hockey player to ever live. Well, next to these guys at least:

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There you have it. An entire week in less than 1000 words. Hope everyone had a good Fourth of July Weekend and stay tuned for another wacky week of sports!!!