My final golf trip of 2012 ended with a rainout in Lexington, Kentucky Friday. It was disappointing to not get to play on our last day, even though the trip was still a lot of fun. When you are with friends, fun will always prevail.
We did get in two rounds and I played pretty well. An 80 at Gibson Bay was followed by an 83 at Tate's Creek. For a guy that couldn't buy a birdie for a month, it was nice to put five of them on the board this week. For those of you who are thinking the scores were not all that impressive considering five birdies were recorded, you must realize that there were some "others" on the card as well. I'd just as soon not talk about those.
Our September road trip tends to signal the end of golf season and the start of bowling season. For sure we will keep golfing as long as the weather cooperates. Bowling season started three weeks ago however, and that means it's time to switch gears. Starting next week, it's on to bowling stories.
For this week though I get to spout off about other sports and spouting off is something I like to do.
About the time that golf is winding down and bowling is starting up another sport seems to occupy America's thoughts. Football, whether it's high school, college or professional, garners a lot of attention. This season maybe more than most.
The National Football League locked out its officials and replaced them with, what else, replacements. The league dipped down into the D-II and D-III ranks to find enough zebras to work the first three weeks and the results were to be expected. More than likely these men are good, hard-working and competent officials at that level. In the NFL, they were in over their heads.
My issue with the replacement officials was two-fold. One problem was their lack of knowledge of the rules in the pro game. Constant trips to the sidelines to sort things out brought games to a standstill and then the correct ruling was not always forthcoming. Secondly, it appeared that there were a lot of late flags. Unless you get the darn thing stuck in your pocket, an official should not make a call after a player jumps up and screams. It's the refs call not the players.
Of course the call that concluded the Packers-Seahawks game last Monday will serve as the legacy for the replacement refs. The lack of an offensive interference call on Golden Tate had people screaming, but I'm not sure regular refs would have called it either. Officials tend to swallow their whistles on end of the game plays such as that and that has been a problem for me for years.
The line that "we don't want to decide the outcome of the game, it should be the players who do so" espoused by officials doesn't wash with me. Not making an obvious call is determining the outcome of the game. A foul in the first quarter of a game should be a foul on the last play of the game.
The best thing about the end of the game in Seattle was the fact that it made settling the dispute with the regular officials imperative, and now we have what we want. The regular officials worked the Browns-Ravens game Thursday night. The guys in the stripes received a standing ovation from the Baltimore fans something no one ever expected to see. Similar scenes could be on tap later today.
I would warn the officials however, the honeymoon will be over soon. Make a couple of questionable calls and fanatic football fans will forget very quickly how much they wanted you back. Enjoy the adoration now Mr. Official, because it won't be long until being ignored is the best you can expect from working a game.
Speaking of lockouts, the NHL has done the same with its players. No preseason hockey and the regular season will soon be in jeopardy. Pardon me if I don't seem too upset about this work stoppage, but hockey is not my preferred sport. With apologies to all the hockey fans out there, if the season doesn't happen I might not notice. Of course that will also be true if the season does take place.
The baseball regular season is winding down, and for this Cleveland Indian fan it has been another long season. Manny Acta is gone and the rumors of Terry Francona coming to town are gaining momentum. A new manager may help, but having enough money to afford the best players is always going to be a bigger issue.
On the other hand, Detroit fans are hoping to see the Tigers secure a spot in the post season. They have the added bonus of watching one of their own contending for a Triple Crown. Miguel Cabrera has a chance to become the first to win the crown since Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Red Sox in 1967. I'm watching and rooting for it to happen.
On the high school level, I did make it over to Hedges to watch some races in the Cross Country Carnival. That is such an awesome event. Tiffin can be proud of hosting such a huge sports spectacle. Congratulations to those in charge. You do an outstanding job of organizing and running the event.
Columbian's football team is undefeated. New Riegel's golf team is heading for the districts and several local volleyball teams are having great seasons. You can watch some outstanding young athletes in the area this year, which it seems, is always the case.
For those of you who like to get your sports fix on TV, you have a lot of choices today. NFL action, NASCAR racing and the finale of the Ryder Cup top the list of sporting events on tap. For that there is only one thing left to say thank heavens for the remote control!
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
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