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Sports Commentary 3/15/14 – Looking Ahead… To Spring

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(Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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A TOUCH OF SPRING, ON ME

If you’re anything like me you’ve pretty much had it not only with winter, but with the weather forecasters, not all of whom, by the way, are meteorologists, who can’t seem to just let it go away.  The maddening thing about watching and listening to the forecasts is they treat spring like a carrot on a string at the end of a stick in front of a donkey.  It’s always within reach, it’s coming, it just never gets here.  Warmer weather is on the horizon, just not today, always tomorrow.  Reminds me of the sign over the bar at the old Club Lido in New Britain.  “Free drinks tomorrow”.  How often do you get to cash that one in?

If the weathermen don’t seem all that interested in getting spring to you after the winter we’ve suffered through, I’m here to help.

Normally I wouldn’t start handicapping the Kentucky Derby until a couple of weeks in advance of the annual first Saturday in May running of the classic, but with the Joe Fureys of the world making it seem like May is never going to get here let me whisper a few names in your ear.  Candy Boy.  That would be Gary Stephens three year old colt running on the west coast.  Honor Code.  California Chrome, another west coast riser.  Social Incursion, a ten length winner at Gulfstream Park in just his second career start.  These are some of the horses drawing the early interest for the Derby, all of whom may actually make it into the Churchill Downs field, or not.  But it already feels like May, doesn’t it?  You can almost see the parade of hats.  I’ll keep you up to date on the potential entries as we get closer.

One of the great harbingers of spring every year is the Masters, the first of golf’s majors, and the grandest, because it is everything we want spring to be.  Emerald Green grass, blossoming dogwoods and the colorful array of spring blossoms that makeup the background for Amen Corner.  The usual names will surface as the pundits try to handicap the field.  Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy.  So far Tiger and Phil have done little to demonstrate that this is going to be their year, anywhere, let alone at the Masters.  Of the three, Rory’s off the best start, but as it is with the Kentucky Derby, it’s not how you start in a large field with everyone packed together out of the gate, it’s how you finish, and so far Rory hasn’t shown himself to be the kind of finisher Russell Henley was when he overcame Rory in the final round of the Honda Classic and put away Rory and two others on the first hole of sudden death.  Patrick Reed showed how to finish last week at the Cadillac Championship, playing it safe off the tee and away from the water on the final hole, playing for bogey with a two stroke lead and no one on the course behind him, a lesson more experienced veterans like Phil Mickelson and Jean van de Velde wish they’d learned a long time ago.  Reed has already won three times on Tour, in just 14 events, and he’s only 23 years old.

I’d take either one of those guys, or Bubba Watson, over Tiger or Rory or Phil right now, but I don’t usually handicap the Masters this early.  I’m just doing it for you.  17 days to the Red Sox and Orioles at Camden Yard.

With a little dose of spring from the sports world, when you need it most, on me, I’m Scott Gray.

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