Thursday, June 30, 2011

Putting a sheen on steroid talk

Oh, that wacky Charlie Sheen. Seems the man who is down to his last Two and a Half Brain Cells has told Sports Illustrated that he took steroids when he was filming "Major League" for his role as Wild Thing Vaughn.

He said the drugs, which he used "for like six or eight weeks," added 6 mph to his fastball.

Now what are we supposed to do with this information?

Use it as proof that if six weeks of steroids could give Sheen an 85 mph fastball, six years (or more) of steroids must have been pretty effective for Roger Clemens and other big-league pitchers?

Dismiss his claim as the ramblings of a narcissistic loon?

Give Sheen a call to determine if he is willing to go back on 'roids and become the Cardinals' closer?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today's High 5 - Blago Edition

5. Monday wasn't a total loss for Rod Blagojevich. His beloved Cubbies scored a crucial victory over the Rockies and now are a mere 14 games under .500.

4. When the jury convicted him on 17 of 20 corruption charges, Blago said he was stunned. A totally predictable reaction. He's the kind of guy who thinks he can fool all of the people all of the time. And why not? Each of the six times the corrupt buffoon ran for office, a majority of his Illinois constituents voted for him. It's understandable that he doubted 12 jurors could see through his b.s.

3. Blago's successor, Pat Quinn, had better hustle. He has fewer than four years to do something crooked enough to become the third straight Illinois governor to serve time. I'm confident he can do it!!

2. If I'm Patti Blagojevich, I'm thinking: "I ate a tarantula for that?"

1. Lots of people believe they live in politically corrupt places. For example, friends in New Jersey and Arizona and here in my new state of North Carolina actually think they're No. 1. Please. elected officials in Illinois take oaths promising to meet graft minimums.

Monday, June 27, 2011

History that never will be repeated

Every once in a while, a historical nugget catches my eye. Just such a thing happened Monday, when I saw a little blurb in the paper noting that it was the 62nd anniversary of a 23-inning game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves.

The most unique thing wasn't the length of the game, which was suspended due to darkness with the score tied at 2. It was this stat line for Dodgers starter Whit Wyatt:

16 IP, 15 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K

That's right: Rookie manager Leo Durocher let Wyatt pitch the first 16 innings for the Dodgers.

Sixteen innings!

These days, managers are routinely criticized for letting guys pitch half that many innings in games for fear of injury.

Wyatt took the mound again five days later and lasted only 1 2/3 innings, but pitched a complete game victory five days after that. He did end up missing the last two months with an injury that season but rebounded to win 56 games from 1940-42.

In 1941, his best season, he went 22-10 with 23 complete games and 7 shutouts. He capped his season by throwing 2 complete games against the Yankees in the World Series, winning Game 2 and losing Game 5. (That Series was best known for Mickey Owen's famed dropped third strike, which cost the Dodgers a win in Game 4.)

Wyatt pitched through 1945 before retiring at 38. He probably would have lasted a couple more seasons but his arm must've still been tired from that 16-inning stint six years earlier.

If a manager today let a pitcher throw 16 innings on June 27, he'd be fired before June 28.

Durocher wasn't fired. He went on to manage in four more decades, win 2,009 games and get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Did Riggleman really do that?

Not sure if Jim Riggleman is a Turkey of the Year candidate for walking away from his Nationals managing job just as the team was getting halfway decent ... or if he deserves plaudits for standing up for what he believes, regardless of the consequences.

Riggleman thought the Nationals should have picked up the option year on his contract. He thought he deserved that much, and he's right. The team thought otherwise. So he quit.

No matter what you think of quitters, you have to agree that it takes cajones to walk away when things are pretty good. I mean, anybody can quit when things are rotten, as Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella have. Repeatedly.

I always liked Jim. When he was the Cubs' manager from 1995 to 1999, he was the ultimate straight-shooter. I can't imagine any manager handling the wild Sosa-McGwire season of '98 better than he did. Tony La Russa didn't handle it better, that's for sure.

Of course, La Russa had a great track record before that and has a great one since (despite being McLiar's enabler-in-chief). The same can't be said of Riggleman.

Still, Riggleman knows that everything in baseball is recycled. Even in the unlikely event that he never manages again, he'll be some team's third-base coach or bench coach as long as he wants to stay in the game.

Turkey? Nah. It's hard to resist a guy willing to tell his boss, "Take this job and shove it."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hey Albert Gump: Stupid is as stupid does

Getting mad at a reporter who dared ask if he was concerned that his broken wrist might affect his next contract, gazillion-dollar-free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols called it a "stupid question" and immediately ended the press gathering.

It wasn't a stupid question. It was THE question that had to be asked, THE question that is on the mind of baseball fans everywhere -- both those in St. Louis who hope he stays with the Cardinals and those in other cities want the generation's best hitter to play for their teams.

The question wasn't even asked Monday (the day Pujols found out he would miss at least six weeks) but Tuesday. The always respectful St. Louis media gave Albert plenty of time to let the news sink in before asking the question on everybody's mind.

The only stupid thing was Pujols' immature reaction.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Online, schmonline ... I'll still take my daily newspaper

Yeah, I know we're in the age of instant news ... all anybody could ever want (and far too much more) ... online ... for free.

And you know what? I still don't know how anybody who really cares about his/her community -- and by that I mean city, county, state, country and world -- can go without reading that relic from a bygone era: the daily newspaper. I know: I'm so 1990s!

I tried giving it up, believe me.

I went without a newspaper for a spell and tried catching up on all the news online. Hated it.

There was no rhythm to the search. I'd see a headline, click on it and read a little. Then I'd see another headline and click some more. An hour later, my eyes were tired, my neck was sore and I felt as if I had read hardly anything noteworthy. As for the ads ... well, I never even considered clicking on one.

So I started having my local daily newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, delivered Friday through Sunday. Filling in the gaps with a couple of weeklies as well as online news, this was passable but ultimately unsatisfying. I had all this stuff to read on weekends but scant little to read during the week. I felt I was missing too much.

Taking advantage of a deal offered by an airline frequent flyer program, I traded in a few points for three months of a 7-day-a-week Observer subscription. It didn't take long for me to realize how much I had missed having a newspaper every day.

So when my subscription came up for renewal this week, I picked up the phone, called the Observer, made the best deal I possibly could -- $116 for the year -- and signed up.

It will be 31.9 cents per day very well spent.

I don't read every story, but I read a lot of them. I like how a newspaper organizes stories and lays out the narrative for readers. I like having the baseball box scores on one page. I like having coupons to clip on Sundays and supermarket ads to peruse on Wednesdays (my wife being the main breadwinner, the least I can do is the shopping!). I like the funnies. I like having weekend fun options summarized every Friday.

I like the opinion pages. I like having a daily editorial or two to read. I like letters from fellow readers, opinion pieces from my fellow citizens of the area and national columns from talented, interesting writers I probably wouldn't have stumbled upon online.

Oh, and I like that, despite what so many people say, newspapers still matter. If they didn't why would politicians and athletes always be whining about what's printed in them? I shudder to think where we'd be as a society without our newspapers keep tabs on our elected officials and regulatory agencies.

When my daughter was a high school athlete, she and I would get a real charge out of seeing her name in the Chicago Tribune and/or Sun-Times. We clipped those stories and saved them; we never saved the online equivalent. To this day, Moms and Dads everywhere put newspaper clips on their fridges and send them (the clips, not the fridges) to the grandparents.

Yes, it's "yesterday's news today." Yes, when I want to know what's going on today, I have to look online. Even this lifelong newspaper junkie admits that.

Nevertheless, I like having important news stories and columns presented in a logical, readable form. The national deficit isn't going away tomorrow -- and neither, unfortunately, is Newt Gingrich -- so if I don't read George Will or Paul Krugman for a day or two, it doesn't really matter. I ultimately am getting diverging opinions on important subjects and can choose to agree or disagree.

And I can do it all at my leisure -- sitting comfortably on the glider in our screen porch, on my La-Z-Boy in our rec room or while chilling on our sofa.

If that makes me as obsolete as the newspaper itself, I can live with that.

Now leave me alone. I gotta see what those goofy Zits teenagers are up to today.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hoping 2012 U.S. Open comes down to Tiger-Rory playoff

The Bald Truth

I miss Tiger. Really.

Sure, I was in awe of Rory McIlroy, both his incredible swing and his can-do demeanor. And I'll admit I was rooting for him to keep going more and more under par.

But as was the case when Tiger Woods was winning tournaments by double-digit totals, I grew a little bored as I watched McIlroy's runaway U.S. Open victory. I'll take a nail-biter of a tournament that goes down to the final putt over a record-setting rout every time.

I mean, how many times should one have to listen to Johnny Miller chuckle at the absurdity of McIlroy's near-perfect shotmaking?

McIlroy certainly looks like golf's next big thing. Wouldn't it be delicious if the sport's last big thing got healthy, got his game back and took all this adulation being heaped on McIlroy personally?

Wouldn't it be great if Tiger Woods acted like his buddy and role model, Michael Jordan, who used such challenges to motivate himself and amaze us all?

I covered the PGA Championship at Medinah in 1999, when a baby-faced Sergio Garcia almost stole the show from Woods. At the time, we all assumed we'd be treated to Sergio vs. Tiger for the next two decades. Unfortunately, Sergio lost his copy of the script.

Now that Tiger is the hunter instead of the hunted, will he be able to play his part? Can he be the Arnie to McIlroy's Jack?

Wouldn't that be something?

The Quote

"He lapped the field, and for such a young age, how mature he is." -- Jason Day

The U.S. Open runner-up is 23, an old man compared to the 22-year-old champion.

The Balder Truth

My favorite thing about McIlroy -- and there are lots of favorite things with this kid -- is how quickly he plays.

He doesn't stand there for five minutes trying to figure out how a 2 mph breeze will affect his next shot. He doesn't examine every putt from 14 different angles. He doesn't agonize for 30 seconds after every miss or pump his fist 20 times after every make. He doesn't confer with his caddie for 10 minutes and change clubs three times before addressing the ball.

He walks up to his Pro V1, hits it and gets ready for the next shot.

All of us would be wise to copy McIlroy's picture-perfect swing. All of us also are wise enough to know we can't.

One thing we can copy is his desire to play the game quickly.

The more time under 4 hours a round can take, the more time there is for the 19th hole.

Who's No. 1?

If it's too early to say for sure that it's McIlroy, we don't really know who No. 1 is. But we know who it isn't.

Luke Donald has to be one of the great pretenders in recent sports history.


Americans aren't winning golf's majors. They aren't contending at Wimbledon, either.

Which means ... what? ... we're supposed to be ashamed to be Americans or something?

Our elected leaders do plenty to make us ashamed. What happens in our sporting venues is immaterial.

It's only sports, you know?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Simcha: Almost too doggone cute!!!


Simmie and Oscar, her boyfriend next door. Quite the cute couple, no?

Enjoying the squeaky toy she got as a gift from Oscar (and his family).

Chilling on a chair in the backyard.

Didn't especially enjoy her first bath.

Much more comfy with the water at a safe distance -- our community lake.

What a cliche ... Simcha loves a good stick!

A true Sun Goddess.

Simmie loves her "Kong" toy.

And we love Simmie!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The true shame of Weiner

Mixed emotions about Anthony Weiner's resignation.

On the one hand, his arrogance and indecency certainly merited extreme negative consequences.

On the other, if one thinks about the many sex-related things elected officials have done while still being allowed to serve out their terms -- from Bill Clinton's unique use of cigars in the Oval Office to Mark Sanford hiking the Appalachian Trail to Larry Craig's bathroom toe-tapping escapades, etc. -- Weiner's sexting seems fairly minor.

Would the constant distractions have prevented Weiner from serving his constituents? If so, then he had to go. But just as time let the jokes die down and let Clinton finish his term with a flourish, so too might Weiner have been able to salvage his career -- and be an effective leader -- had he stayed the course.

(Then again, with a name like Weiner and with his particular transgressions, it's a very real possibility that no matter what he does from here on out, he'll never be taken seriously again.)

Over the years, whenever I saw Weiner chatting with Jon Stewart or making arguments from the congressional podium, I thought: "You know, this guy is not afraid to say what he thinks and act upon what he says. We need more like him." It's the same feeling I had about John McCain back when he really was a maverick (as opposed to the shell-of-a-mav he turned out to be in 2008).

So even though Weiner's wound was self-inflicted, it was a shame to see his political career die that way.


Oh, and apologists can save their breath with their "Why was he driven out of office just because he did some sexting? Don't we have more corrupt officials to go after?"

It was the same "defense" that Clinton's apologists used, and it was just as wrong then.

Clinton lied while under oath. That was the crime. Weiner lied repeatedly to his constituents and peers about his behavior. That was his true failing, at least in my book.

As I used to tell my kids: Nobody expects you to be perfect; when you do something wrong, the lying to try to cover it up is what we really can't stand.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

LeBron's not humble? Duh! A pleasant surprise: Cuban is

Here's what LeBron said about all the haters shortly after he spit the bit and his Heat lost to the Mavs in the Finals:

"All the people that were rooting for me to fail … tomorrow they hafta wake up and have the same life that (they had) before they woke up today. They got the same personal problems they had today. And I’m gonna continue to live the way I wanna live and continue to do the things I want to do."

Arrogant? Sure. Bitter? Absolutely. Accurate? Mostly.

Almost certainly, LeBron has a better life than the vast majority of his haters. He's rich and powerful and loved by plenty of people. His comment might piss folks off, but I'm guessing that many of them would happily trade their lives for his.

Moreover, his comment is a pretty accurate assessment of how most pro athletes -- as well as big-time entertainers, moguls and other "haves" -- view the have-nots out here in Peon Land.

Pay hundreds of dollars to watch me play. Buy the sneakers and Nutella I'm selling. Worship me. And if you don't like something I do, screw ya ... I don't need ya, anyway.

It doesn't mean athletes are "good guys" or "bad guys." It's just the way it is.

It's not easy being humble when peons have been kissing your keister for most of your life.


And on a more positive note, how about Mark Cuban insisting he will pick up the tab for the Mavs' victory parade?

Dallas, like almost every city, is practically broke and has far more important bills to pay. Yet if Cuban didn't offer, the city certainly would have sprung for the celebration -- as pretty much every other city of a championship team has done forever.

Maybe this will start a trend: Billionaires not insisting upon handouts from their communities for things they can pay for using the loose change they find between their sofa cushions.

Maybe ... but I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Today's High 5 - NBA Finals edition

5. LeBron haters, led by classless Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, are in heaven. The Evil One not only lost in the NBA Finals but looked pretty feeble in doing so.

Only a pathetic loser wastes so much time and energy hating an athlete for merely making a basketball decision.

4. At the same time, I have little sympathy for LeBron, whom some have painted as a pitiable victim. He faced an unfair amount of scrutiny, his apologists claim.

Please. He couldn't have handled his exit from Cleveland more poorly. He made his choice. He gets to live with the consequences.

Bottom line: In the most important games of his career, when he had a chance to make the haters eat crow, he pissed down his leg.

3. My fellow Marquetter Dwyane Wade did his best to carry LeBron during the Finals but he, too, cracked under pressure. At least he's already got his ring.

2. In a move even bolder than the '85 Bears doing the Super Bowl Shuffle at midseason, Mavs guard Jason Terry got a tattoo of the NBA championship trophy. After some early-series struggles, he played huge in the final two games and earned the right to keep his ink.

Terry, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and several other Dallas veterans showed how hard work, stick-to-itiveness and teamwork can yield incredible results.

Those were good stories for the victors, and yet I was more interested in the one authored by Tyson Chandler. Practically run out of Chicago by a Bulls management team that thought he lacked heart, the Mavs center got one important offensive rebound after another.

Who'd have thought he'd be the first post-Jordan Bulls draft pick to win an NBA title?

1. Larry Bird averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists during his amazing career, rescued a Celtics franchise that had lost its way and led Boston to three titles -- including one in just his second season.

There isn't a soul who would compare Dirk Nowitzki to Bird if both men weren't white. Nowitzki is no Larry Bird.

That being said, it was nice to see Dirk win his first title and play so well in taking the Mavs to their first ever championship.

His fourth-quarter offensive performances throughout the playoffs helped erase the bitter memory of his 2006 choke job in the Finals. It must have been a huge weight off his shoulders.

This time, he completely took charge -- just as Bird and Jordan and Magic did in their day. And just as LeBron couldn't do for the Heat.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I lost on Blago's elections, but at least I was right

In 2002, I lobbied hard for Illinois Democrats to choose Paul Vallas as their gubernatorial candidate. He had done a great job as superintendent of Chicago schools and wasn't a sleazebag, as his opponent, Rod Blagojevich was. Unfortunately, the downstaters inexplicably went with Blago, he scored a narrow primary victory and he went on to be elected governor.

A moderate who makes decisions based on candidates, policies and platforms -- not parties -- I then voted for Republican Jim Ryan, the eventual loser.

Four years -- and several Blago scandals and scams later -- I voted for Republican Judy Baar Topinka even though there was little evidence the state treasurer would be a good governor. I simply couldn't vote for Blago. Alas, Blago outspent Topinka 4-to-1 and won an 11 percent victory.

The rest is history. As I write this, a jury is trying to decide if it should convict Blago on multiple corruption charges. He was a terrible governor and an embarrassment to the state -- albeit a godsend to standup comedians.

Looking back, I consider my decisions regarding his gubernatorial elections to be my best as a voter.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weiner's a tool, Zambrano's a weiner

The last couple of times I saw an interview of Anthony Weiner, I thought: "Maybe a little more liberal than I'd like but, in general, he has a good sense of humor and seems kind of cool for a politician."

Then the Democratic representative from New York got caught sending a bunch of young women a bunch of pictures of himself -- including one of his own weiner bulging in his undies -- and lied about it repeatedly before finally being forced to fess up.

Cool? More like a total tool.

Just goes to prove that Republicans don't have the patent on this kind of crapola.

A defiant Weiner says he won't resign, and I believe him. Hey, after the likes of Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford and Newt Gingrich managed to remain in office despite their indiscretions, I have little doubt that Weiner will be able to hang around, too. After his term ends, though, he's done as a politician.

And, liberal that he is, he can't even count on income from Fox News when he's done.

And speaking of weiners, did you hear the outrageous comments Carlos Zambrano made the other day?

No, I'm not talking about the Cubbie starter calling out closer Carlos Marmol for pitching stupidly to Cardinals slap-hitter Ryan Theriot. I mean, Zambrano actually was right about Theriot being unable to hit a good fastball -- even if he sounded like a selfish jerk for publicly voicing his disgust.

I'm talking about the outrageous thing Zambrano told the media Monday after apologizing to Marmol:

"We can be 11, 12, 15 games out, but we start winning games, who knows? It’s not over yet. Believe me guys, it’s not over for the Cubs."

And that, my friends, is why I call him Cra-Z!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nadel, Nadal, whatever ... it's all in the family!

All those hours I spent teaching my nephew how to play tennis -- not to mention, how to grow hair -- are paying off big time.

Another major for Rafael Nadel!

("Nadal," as everybody knows, is merely the Spanish translation.)

Has there ever been a better clay-court player or a better defensive master? Freakishly athletic and ridiculously talented, Rafa was unbeatable again at Roland Garros. So the better question might be: Has there ever been a better tennis player ... period?

I thoroughly enjoy listening to John McEnroe analyze tennis. There are few better commentators in any sport. It's especially rare to hear one so accomplished as an athlete articulate the nuances of his sport in plain English for the masses to comprehend.

Yet it was the almost-as-good Mary Carillo who made the single best point as Rafa was steamrolling Roger Federer in Sunday's French Open final:

Yes, Federer has won a record 16 majors to 10 by Nadel/Nadal. But Roger is almost 5 years older than Rafa, meaning the gap likely will close quickly. More significantly, Rafa is 17-8 against Roger in majors. So how can Federer be the greatest player ever, as many observers claim, if he hasn't even been able to win half of his big-tournament matches against his generation's other great player?

I like to think of it this way: While Roger didn't have to contend with a mature Rafa to build his record, Rafa had to go through perhaps the greatest player ever -- when said player was in his prime -- to succeed on a major scale.

And Rafa has done just that. Over and over and over again.

Makes me proud to be a fellow Nadel/Nadal!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thankfully, I avoided stepping on Shaq's toe

In what seems a lifetime ago, I covered the 1993 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City for AP. Looking back, two things stand out:

1. A few other sportswriters and I went out for lunch the day of the game. It started snowing lightly as we got out of the cab and entered the restaurant. About an hour later, there had to have been a foot and a half of snow on the ground. It was the biggest, fastest blizzard I ever had seen. And that's saying something, because I lived in Minnesota for almost 10 years.

2. My game assignment was to write about Shaquille O'Neal, the NBA's rookie sensation. I can't remember what I wrote, but I do remember getting into the locker room as quickly as possible after the game and planting myself next to Shaq's locker. Even back then, he was a notorious quiet-talker, so I knew the microphone on my tape recorder wouldn't pick up a thing he said if I didn't stand thisclose. He came out of the shower and sat down on his chair, and his huge left foot literally was an inch from my right shoe. I was barely listening to what he said because all I kept thinking was, "Mike, you clod, don't step on one of this guy's toes!"

Shaq was neither the best center I ever covered (that would have been Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) nor the largest human I ever saw (the Jazz had a center named Mark Eaton, whose head was roughly the size of a Yugo). But he was close in both categories.

The super-athletic O'Neal was the fourth-best center in basketball history, behind only Kareem, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. I used to get a kick out of when his critics would say, "All he can do is dunk." To which I'd respond: "Yeah, 15 or 20 times a game."

His biggest failing was his horrific free-throw shooting. He used to claim he made them all the time in practice. That cracked me up, because it meant he was admitting he was a choker who couldn't handle game pressure. In reality, Shaq was a damn good big-game performer. Still, he needed a great facilitator -- Kobe Bryant in L.A., Dwyane Wade in Miami -- to win his titles.

One thing for sure: Shaq was a wonderful character who marketed himself brilliantly and turned himself into an international brand. Sure, his movies sucked. But he made seven more of them -- and got paid handsomely for seven more of them -- than you or I did.

Sports needs more characters not fewer. Shaquille O'Neal will be missed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fore! Look who's back on the tee!

Since moving to Charlotte, one of the questions I get most from my Chicago friends is: "How's the golf game?"

Well, in 2011, I didn't know ... until yesterday.

That's right: Despite great weather all spring and a pretty nice winter, too, I didn't play my first round of the year until the last day of May.

The combination of all the stuff I had to do to get our recently purchased house habitable, my coaching gigs and, most recently, our new puppy Simcha left me just enough free time to not quite be able to justify 4-hour rounds of golf.

In fact, since moving here last August, I had played very few courses. (Of course, I did play a ton on one course -- the one at which I worked last fall.)

Anyway, on a whim yesterday, I grabbed a discount mid-afternoon tee time -- knowing that even if the round took a little longer than I wanted it to, my wife would be home in time to keep our puppy's bladder from bursting.

It was 95 degrees, one of the hottest late-May days in recent Charlotte history. It wasn't bad, though, because humidity was only about 195 percent.

Yep, here in North Carolina, it's a wet heat.

Normally, I prefer walking. But a cart was included in the rate and I gladly accepted.

Because it was such a sweltering day and it was a Tuesday afternoon, I practically had the course to myself. And playing surprisingly well -- which for me means that my missed fairways weren't too wild, my yanked irons didn't fly O.B. and my skulled chips didn't skitter across greens into the water hazards -- I played the front in 1 hour, 11 minutes. Nice!

After carding a 44 (which on a grown-up, 6400-yard course and having not played all year is pretty darn good for this hack), I opened the back triple-double-quad. Oy. Nine over on three holes tends to slow down a round. A string of bogeys (a.k.a. "Nadel pars") followed, and I finished with a 51 on the back for a 95.

Not horrible for me, especially considering my three-hole meltdown. And with the round taking only 2 hours, 36 minutes to complete, I even got home before my wife -- much to the relief of Simcha.

So, how's my golf game? Same as it's been for years: a good shot or two every hole (enough to fool me into thinking I might actually be better than horsebleep someday) and a bad shot or two every hole (enough to bring me back to reality).

Consistently inconsistent describes it best.

But it's golf, or at least my version of it, and I it felt great to swing a club again.