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Time to come to grips with puttering around

The numbers are in:

On three typical holes in the final round of the U.S. Open last Sunday, Sergio Garcia averaged 33 seconds before his tee shot and 23 pre-swing waggles.

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Those numbers come courtesy of Richard Sandomir of The New York Times, who notes that, by comparison, in his famous Honeymooners golfing lesson for buddy Ralph Kramden, Ed Norton committed nine waggles during a 15-second swing preamble.

Unlike Norton, Garcia didn't address the ball with a hearty, "Hello, ball!"

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Others, however, weren't shy about addressing Garcia's waggles, which can be defined as repeated loosenings and regrippings of the golf club.

Antsy fans called him "El Waggle" and "Waggle Boy." Another yelled out, "Human Rain Delay," a reference to Orioles manager Mike Hargrove, who earned the tag by ritualistically adjusting his batting gloves and uniform in between pitches.

Said Garcia, "I'm leaving with a lot of new nicknames."

No one was crueler, though, than members of the sporting press, their itchy fingers twitching every time a waggle pushed them closer to deadline.

A sampling:

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Good Lord, Garcia, get a grip! You're like a pitcher throwing to first base 12 times before every pitch. And there's no runner on base."

More Ostler: "Golf according to [John] Daly: Grip it and rip it. Golf according to Sergio Garcia: Grip it and grip it and grip it and grip it."

Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "He looks like a man trying to play a trumpet solo on a live snake."

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Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: "The Gettysburg Address was shorter."

Others were no less charitable.

Reader Nicholas Edmunds told the Chronicle: "John Daly's motto: Grip it and rip it. Sergio Garcia's: Grip it. Repeat if necessary."

Comedian Alex Kaseberg said: "Sergio was in the middle of his waggle Sunday and didn't even notice the 49-minute rain delay."

Pitch and run

PGA Tour player Frank Lickliter has a solution for speeding up play.

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"Rocco [Mediate] and I would like to see one PGA tournament a year in which you have 4 hours, 15 minutes for 18 holes," he said. "If you don't finish in that time, you're gone. Have it be sponsored by a watch company: 'The Better Be Ready Open.' "

Here's a score line you would see: Sergio Garcia ... DQ.

Not drafting for speed

Sometimes it's teams, not players, that delay the game.

When the Houston Texans took seven minutes to select quarterback David Carr with the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft despite having already signed him, America Online columnist Norman Chad wrote: "I guess they're not going to run a hurry-up offense."

Time's not on their side

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Lefty Gomez, a New York Yankees pitcher in the 1930s, hated facing Philadelphia Athletics slugger Jimmie Foxx.

In one game, he shook off every pitch called by catcher Bill Dickey. Dickey walked to the mound to ask what his pitcher wanted to throw.

"Nothing," Gomez said. "Let's just stall around, and maybe he'll get mad and go away."

Foxx stayed and hit Gomez's next pitch for a home run.

His fingers are flying

Ostler's suggestions for speeding up baseball:

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"Station a groundskeeper at the mound, and after each pitch he does any raking and shovel work, so the pitcher doesn't have to waste time in heavy grading projects."

"I'm proposing a rule that between pitches the batter is allowed to touch/adjust only one body part."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.


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